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52 Responses

  1. Avatar b-psycho says:

    Gotta admit I’m curious the Pakistani reasoning for Romney. Did he make some remark or proposal that they picked up positively on that the rest of the world including us completely missed?Report

    • Avatar b-psycho in reply to b-psycho says:

      Then again looking closer NOTA won Pakistan. Which makes more sense.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to b-psycho says:

        Pakistan is an outlier less because of their support for Romney (a few countries have greater support) and more because of their lack-of-support for Obama. I can think of at least one reason for that… Starts with an “I” and ends with “nvading their country to kill someone many of them held in high regards.”Report

        • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Kazzy says:

          Maybe “invading” is the wrong word there. Still, going in to their country without permission to perform a military strike with troops on the ground generally doesn’t embiggen the locals’ love.Report

          • Avatar Chris in reply to Kazzy says:

            Another word, starts with “d.”

            But if you ever look at Pakistani sources, they often blame even attacks by other Pakistanis on the U.S. Hatred of the U.S. there, and more specifically, mistrust of the U.S. there, is very, very high, and I assume Obama is the symbol of the U.S. that they all recognize right now. Romney will become that if he’s elected, and then they’ll hate him just as much.Report

            • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Chris says:

              Heh. I also considered the D word. Really, they’re all parts of it.

              The media is also likely a huge player, especially in countries where the media is state-run or state-controlled.

              On the flip side, I wonder how cognizant citizens of other countries are of the good that America does. I mean, we’re not ALL bad. Do the citizens of countries that receive aid from the US tend to know about it? Are the effects of this aid tangible and real for the folks on the ground?

              America might do well to get a PR person or two.Report

        • Avatar KatherineMW in reply to Kazzy says:

          I suspect the drone strikes, which have killed at least a hundred civilians and have whole communities living in terror, have more to do with Pakistan’s views on Obama than the bin Laden mission does, though the latter is likely a factor as well.Report

  2. Avatar Ryan Noonan says:

    The name recognition issue is interesting. I wonder if it accounts for the two countries here that interest me the most: Canada (as the most-American non-USA country in the world) and Australia (as the most second most right-wing member of the British diaspora). I’m somewhat surprised that Romney’s support is quite as low as it is in those two places.Report

    • Avatar Mopey Duns in reply to Ryan Noonan says:

      Are you kidding?

      I can’t speak to Australia, but if Obama and Romney were running in Canada, Obama would win be a landslide.

      Canadians hate hate HATE the Republicans, not based on any understanding of actual policy differences between them and the Democrats, but essentially as a matter of national identity.

      Forget the BBC poll; here is a relatively recent one from Harris Decima, from last July. It shows similar numbers.

      It is no surprise to me at all that this is what the numbers look like. For all the hand-wringing in the Canadian left over Stephen Harper and the Conservatives up here ushering in ‘Republican Politics’, the fact is that the Conservatives are, in terms of policy, clearly to the left of the Democrats in America.Report

      • Avatar KatherineMW in reply to Mopey Duns says:

        It’s policy, not just national identity. Canadians hate the Republicans because they are, by our standards, off-the-charts right wing. (The fact that they tend to use “Canadian” as an insult when talking about policy is also a bit point against them.) As an example: my Dad’s basically a moderate. He doesn’t agree with our Conservative Party on a lot of things, but he can explain and justify a fair portion of their positions. He thinks the Republicans are flat-out crazy.

        Opposition to a social safety net, hatred of public health care (Canada’s most-valued public institution), open hatred of gay people, open disdain for women, the whole fight over evolution in schools, conviction that the rest of the world exists to do America’s bidding or get out of the way, open support for and advocacy of torture…looking at US politics from Canada is like looking at Bizarro World. That’s true even with the Conservatives in power here. The reason it took Stephen Harper about 10 years to get a majority government was that he had to convince a sufficient number of people that he wasn’t like the Republicans (now that he has that power, though, he’s emulating them more and more).

        Pretty much everyone loved Obama in 2008 – not because they agreed with everything he said, but because his election was taken as a sign that our southern neighbour was, at long last, returning to some semblance of sanity. Our situation has been described as “mice living with elephants”. When you change that into “mice living with psychotic elephants”, it gets deeply unsettling for all of us.Report

    • Avatar Zach in reply to Ryan Noonan says:

      ‘Republican’ is used as a pejorative in Canada. Even Conservative politicians repudiate the suggestion that their policies in any way resemble a stereotypically Republican policy.

      Two things come to mind:
      1) The Bush years probably did irreparable damage to the Republican brand. Posters of Bush with all the best Bush-isms decorated walls in dorm buildings for years. Republicans were seen as leading the charge in a national self-parody of everything Americans have traditionally been mocked for: jingoism, militarism, religiosity, etc.

      2) Most Canadians are exposed to American politics through the media. They don’t interact with the average Republican voter as anything other than a tourist. They form their perception of Republicans from soundbites that reinforce their belief that Republicans are extremist right-wingers who lack sense and decency. And I think sense and decency – especially decency – is something most Canadians think is inherent to their own country.Report

  3. Avatar Kolohe says:

    Meh, this is how it is every time. The global educated urban upper middle class like American Democrats more than Republicans. (and for first world countries where the sampling is actually more representative, American Democrats would be the centre-right coalition government that frequently run most of those countries)Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Kolohe says:

      But I don’t know if we can assume that everyone polled was from the “educated urban middle class”. If you’re calling people in remote villages in Kenya or Pakistan, I think the odds of them knowing the name “Barack Obama” are infinitely higher than of them knowing the name “Mitt Romney”.

      Barack Obama is the President of the most influential country in the world. Mitt Romney is… um, a business man who used to be a governor of a small state in that country? This isn’t meant to diminish what Romney has done or is doing… it just acknowledges that he’s likely not exactly a household name for folks who aren’t actively interested in American politics.Report

      • Avatar MaxL in reply to Kazzy says:

        I spend a lot of time overseas, and I think you’d be surprised at how familiar people everywhere are with our election circus. US presidential elections are followed closely; there is ready access to our news and they do go on forever. It’s an 18 month reality show of sorts. I suppose we don’t pay much attention the world beyond threat levels, but we are involved in just about everyone else’s politics or economy at some non-trivial level. For good and for ill.

        Rest assured that it is widely noted abroad that Romney favors maximal interference with other countries in order to impose our will/demonstrate leadership, in particular with a military show of strength. This, along with his constant references to “American Exceptionalism” sound very different outside our borders than they do within the everyday noise of our domestic politics. What would you expect anyone not American make of military force + the idea that the US exists outside the the pattern of history and above the rules of cooperation? From my experience, it goes over like a ton of bricks.

        It’s also important to note that in modern, developed countries, there is just no major party like our Republican party. And, as mentioned elsewhere, while we may be ready to forget about the Bush disaster here at home, everyone else remembers. I was in Nicaragua when he was re-elected, and the attitude from nearly everyone went from, “Well, any country can make a mistake” to “Wait, you actually meant to do that?” It got downright icy at times.

        Finally, the president stands in as a proxy for the US in polls like this I think. Your chart goes a long way to underscore the fact that the US is not disliked at the moment and that Obama has done much to improve people’s perception of us. There is also something to be made of the fact that electing a member of a racial minority as President dispelled the canard that minorities are treated as second class citizens in the US. many countries deal with a racial or religious tension and a sort of tyranny of the majority. It almost never happens that a minority candidate reaches the highest office. That it happened in the US swept aside a lot of the sense that we are hypocrites when it comes to lecturing other countries about human rights.

        So, sure, most of the world knows what Romney’s party stands for, they very likely have heard his name often, and they remember well the damage that GWB’s party did the ;last time they were in power – in Iraq and to the world economy.Report

        • Avatar Kazzy in reply to MaxL says:


          Thanks so much for your response. You’ve dropped a lot of knowledge here and offered an experience I could only speculate about. I won’t go through and retract all my statements that were likely based on inaccurate assumptions, but suffice it to say I learned a lot in just this comment here.

          If there is an opportunity, I’d love to learn/hear more about the perception of America outside our borders, both good and bad, and how well we are understood. I know we have some international writers, but a perspective like your own (which I assume is that of an American who spends a lot of time overseas) would be welcome by at least one writer (myself!).Report

          • Avatar gingerbugjones in reply to Kazzy says:

            I second what Max says. I’m a Canadian who works closely with Australians, New Zealanders, Brits etc. We often discuss US politics and the election dominates our local and national news.

            Not only does everybody I speak to know who Mitt Romney is, but also Herman Cain, Michelle Bachmann, Rick Perry, Sarah Palin and so on. And we are very aware of the platforms of the two parties, down to the minutiae.

            When i’m traveling, i’m often mistaken for an American, and people who speak little English will still try to strike up a conversation about US politics. I met a man in Spain who knew only two English words – Sarah Palin.

            It very much is like a reality show to the rest of the world. Jersey Shore but with an Army. Too bad this reality show has such an impact on all of us, not just America.

            And of course the American exceptionalism stuff rankles us non-yanks a bit. Its one thing to love and be proud of your country, its quite another to believe (and shout from the rooftops) that without question yours is the best country that ever was and ever will be.Report

            • Avatar Kazzy in reply to gingerbugjones says:

              Thanks, Ginger. I’m curious how folks in other countries come to know what they know about our political system and the players in it. When I’ve traveled abroad, I’ve always stayed in hotels, and I assumed the television and news media was atypical (there was almost always a CNN International channel and a BBC channel). Do you know how these people come to know about Palin, Cain, Bachmann, Perry, etc? I know a number of Americans who likely know little to nothing about the last three.Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to Kazzy says:

                Al-Jazeera does good specials, or so I’m told.Report

              • Avatar gingerbugjones in reply to Kazzy says:

                Well as a Canadian, of course we are bombarded with US media and news of all kind, but US politics is covered very heavily. CBC News covers the US election almost as much as CNN does. Today it was wall to wall Trump and Mourdock.

                From my travels in Europe and Oceania I think its like that everywhere. These stories are not just covered on CNN International, but local news around the world.

                Perhaps its a bit of schadenfreude… we all feel better about our politics when we see what crazy stuff goes on in the US.Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to Kazzy says:

                I was just in Ireland for a couple weeks. The BBC had in depth coverage of the second Prez debate. They talked about polling regarding who people thought had won and the issues that were raised. They discussed the daily polling re: how the election was going. It seemed pretty easy to know about US politics especially since the Beeb is broadcast around the world.Report

          • Avatar MaxL in reply to Kazzy says:

            Thanks for the kind word.

            I just had a thought…have you ever played any kind of MMOG? I play Eve Online sometimes and there are political discussions all the time there, and always about the US. I think it would surprise you how many of the people speaking fluently about US politics are not Americans. US politics is the go-to, generic discussion topic, available to almost everyone. Kind of like baseball here at home.

            Just before I saw your post, I saw this link on Sullivan’s site. It is a real ad, and it goes a long way towards explaining why Republicans come off as such provincial rubes abroad:

            That level of provincialism doesn’t wash off – not even in the shower on Air Force One.Report

            • Avatar Kazzy in reply to MaxL says:

              MMOG… Thats like a computer game of some sort, right?

              This might affirm the stereotype that foreigners know more about our politics than we do. [gulp!]Report

              • Avatar MikeSchilling in reply to Kazzy says:

                MMOG is a medical scanner used almost entirely for female patients. Its output is generated from a specialized type of computer memory, called MMOG-RAM.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Kazzy says:

                Only by a loose definition of “game”. EVE is…unique. It’s a game, certainly. It’s just…the part most people would call “the game” is kinda the edges of it.Report

              • Avatar MaxL in reply to Morat20 says:

                I heard about Eve while reading an article on Econ Game Theory – I have never seen anything like it. There is just no way to master all of it, and there is no way to build far in it alone. Do you play Eve?Report

              • Avatar MaxL in reply to Kazzy says:

                Eve is indeed a game, sort of a Nerdz in Spes.

                Somehow, I just can’t bring myself to use the term MMORPG…I mean, the only “RP” I think I do is to lower anything labelled “Charisma” or “Willpower” to levels I am familiar with.

                Maybe I will have to be more careful with the acronym, eh?Report

              • Avatar KatherineMW in reply to Kazzy says:

                I believe it stands for “mass multiplayer online game”.Report

  4. Avatar bookdragon says:

    I’m pretty sure Britain, and a certain % of the rest of Europe, is going on more than name recognition after the Olympic gaffe tour. 😉

    I’m also not surprised a lot of places don’t like Republicans. After all, the GOP is constantly talking about how bad things are in terrible socialist-almost-communist places like Canada or pretty anywhere in Europe! The German who shared my office when we were grad students couldn’t believe how broken American healthcare was and really couldn’t believe Republicans insulting his healthcare system, especially when it seemed to him that they were lying through their teeth.Report

    • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to bookdragon says:

      Bookdragon, I’m not aware of these “Republicans” you speak of talking about Germany one way or the other. It’s usually Canada or the UK, our closest cousins. But if you will:


      To save time, money and staff, many German health facilities treat dementia patients with powerful drugs that serve no other purpose but to keep them quiet. By some estimates, the practice affects some 240,000 people in Germany.


      And my Brit pals only knew what the BBC told them, under the impression we let people die in the street, completely unaware of our county health systems and charity clinics. Meanwhile, I’ve talked to Brit ex-pats who have told me they’d have died if they’d stayed in Britain. The NHS is great for routine health maintenance and carbuncles and broken bones, but if you really get sick, you better hope what you have and what you need is on the approved list.

      An American woman’s chances of developing breast cancer are slightly higher than her British counterpart – but she is far more likely to survive.

      Differences in treatment for advanced ovarian cancer – which has low survival rates in the UK – could explain why the UK lags behind other countries, according to a study.

      Und so weiter. This door swings both ways.Report

      • Avatar Matty in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

        Your second link is not about a comparison of US and UK healthcare , the countries used in the comparison are Australia, Canada, Denmark and Norway.

        More substantively, if America already has free at the point of need healthcare as you imply then what is it the Obamacare is meant to be adding to the picture?Report

        • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Matty says:


          • Avatar MaxL in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

            “Free at the point of need”? You do realize that emergency rooms send you a bill, right? And that emergency room care is the least efficient way to deal with medical care, and that it is the worst way possible, if it is even possible at all, to deal with a chronic illness.

            Also, hospitals are not charities, and the cost of emergency room care for those who can’t pay (or declare bankruptcy) is simply added to the the overhead of the hospital and passed on to all consumers. Of course, that is only after charging uninsured rates that are literally double the negotiated rate that are charged to insurance companies.

            The idea that we have no health care access problem because emergency rooms can’t turn people away doesn’t even reach the threshold of glib. But yeah, Obamacare and all.Report

            • Avatar Matty in reply to MaxL says:

              You do realize that emergency rooms send you a bill, right?

              Nope, I’m English never been near the American health care system and don’t plan on doing so. The thing that horrifies me on hearing about healthcare based on charging the patient is the idea of people being refused treatment on the grounds they are too poor. I was under the misguided impression that this was the sort of thing health care reform was meant to stop but now I hear that even before reform it didn’t actually happen so I’m left wondering what problems it was meant to solve. The things you mention do sound like serious problem, they just aren’t what I thought was going on.Report

              • Avatar MaxL in reply to Matty says:

                These are exactly the issues that health reform fixed and the major cost cutting reason the reform was enacted (the other reason being that having people without any health insurance is a moral issue). If Romney repeals ACA, this is the status quo we would be returning to, tho. Sorry if I misunderstood.Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to Matty says:

                if you’re bleeding to death, we fix the bleeding.
                If you’ve got a stomach ulcer, that’s not critical, so it’s not on the house.
                Likewise, we can treat “gonna die from diabetes” but won’t give you drugs to prevent you from being in the ER tommorrow too.

                Quite barbaric when you think about it.Report

      • Avatar bookdragon in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

        What you won’t see in Germany or the UK or others is people holding bake sales to pay for a child’s medical treatment – that truly shocked my fellow student.

        As to breast cancer, my mother was diagnosed at the same time as another grad student’s mother. My mom had to jump through 3 months worth of hoops to get the proper proof/approval of her HMO and then had to have reconstruction during the same surgery as her mastectomy, and was kicked out of the hospital 36 hours later. In fact, since there was no one home who could care for her (my Dad needed his job to keep even their lousy health insurance and this was before the GOP stopped preventing FMLA from being passed), I took a leave of absence from my PhD program to go home.

        My friend’s mother received immediate treatment. She stayed in the hospital for 3 days after surgery, was allowed to schedule reconstruction after she had recovered and finished chemo, and had a home health worker come to the house a couple times a week to help with post-surgical care (her husband could take time off to be there during the first couple weeks home). The difference? Her mother was in Canada.

        Now both of our families were basically middle-class. If someone ran this comparison for low income, I think American outcome would simply end with ‘diagnosed too late or couldn’t afford treatment’. When my mom was going thru chemo, 20% co-pays stretched the budget to the limit. She remarked to a nurse that she didn’t know how uninsured people managed. The nurses reply: “It’s sad, but usually they don’t. They just die.”Report

        • I’m not going to argue with the Fidel Castro Institute for Why America Sucks. There’s another side to nationalized health care utopias that folks should research for themselves, is all. All I can do in a combox is show the tip of the iceberg, and the berg is betting bigger.Report

      • Avatar Fnord in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

        As our own Dr. Saunders has pointed to in the past, inappropriate use of antipsychotics in nursing homes is common in the US, too.

  5. Avatar Matty says:

    Two points.

    1. Republicans seem to shout louder about being the ‘America fish yeah!’ party. American exceptionalism doesn’t sound so good from outside where it can come across as sneering at how much worse the rest of us are.

    2. Most of the American’s I’ve met outside the States are very quick to identify as Democrats*. Maybe there is actually more tendency for partisan Democrats to travel but it seems as likely they are aware that Republicans are not widely liked and prefer not to be associated to avoid arguments.

    *One guy in 2001 introduced himself with “I’m from the US but I didn’t vote for Bush”Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Matty says:

      “Republicans seem to shout louder about being the ‘America fish yeah!’ party. American exceptionalism doesn’t sound so good from outside where it can come across as sneering at how much worse the rest of us are.”

      How much of this filters out to other countries? I’m sure there is a bit of a sliding scale (e.g., England probably sees more of this than Ghana). I also wonder if, when it does filter out, it does so as the form, “This subsection of American politics thinks this!” or “America thinks this!”

      I know that when I hear about the politics of other countries, it is more likely to be presented as Country X doing/saying/thinking something, not Country X’s Political Party Y. And even when it is presented as the latter, my lack of familiarity usually leads me to perceiving it as the former.Report

      • Avatar Matty in reply to Kazzy says:

        I agree there is that filter to some extent but my second point – American tourists anxiously declaring that they are different to the loud Americans on the news does, at least in Europe, give us some sense that the things we don’t like are only part of America and that part is labelled ‘Republican’.Report

        • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Matty says:

          That is a fair part. But it is also likely that expatriates have a better and more nuanced understanding of the divide. So foreigners might recognize that not all Americans think “Fish the world!”. But it is a tall order to expect them to recognize Mitt Romney as the candidate representing a party, some of whose members might champion that mindset. Not impossible, just unlikely. Truth be told, I can’t name, off the top of my head, a single foreign country’s political party and a member of it. And while I’m far from the most politically informed American, but I’m probably at least in the upper half.Report

          • Avatar Ginger in reply to Kazzy says:

            There has been a lot of talk about info bubbles when it comes to republicans and democrats only reading (or believing) their own media. I think the same bubble exists around a good chunk of America. Many folks only read or care about their issues, their country, their state, etc, and now that seems to be filtered by party id as well. There is simply so much homemade news that international news is limited to mostly horrible disasters or military entanglements.

            I was discussing Clinton with an American republican colleague and she flat out refused to believe that Clinton balanced the budget. Simply was not true in her mind. And worse, she refused to look it up. Didn’t want to know.Report

          • Avatar Matty in reply to Kazzy says:

            I can’t speak for other parts of the world but in the UK at least about half the TV news is typically international and a good chunk of that is about America, so yes we know who Mitt Romney is and that he is from the same ‘team’ that talked Blair into the Iraq war.Report

  6. Avatar Jaybird says:

    This tells me two things:

    1) Romney will probably not get a Peace Prize once elected.
    2) Obama might get another.Report

    • Avatar Chris in reply to Jaybird says:

      Nah, the next Peace Prize is going to the Arctic Ocean.Report

    • Avatar KatherineMW in reply to Jaybird says:

      They need to find someone else who serves as a counterexample to Bush.

      Once three people/groups have gotten the Nobel as a rebuke to you (IAEA, Gore, and Obama getting them), I think it counts as the Nobel Committee giving you a (dis)honourary Nobel War Prize. Which, for the record, Bush heartily deserves, for resurrecting a model of international relations – war is for advancing interests, not for defence – that was considered at least nominally defunct since the end of the Second World War.Report

  7. Avatar KatherineMW says:

    I have a hunch that at least part of it is name recognition. I mean, how many folks overseas even know who Mitt Romney is?

    I doubt that’s at the heart of it. Bush had more name recognition than Obama in 2008, and the world still liked Obama a lot better.

    An aversion to unjustified invasions, and to arrogance, disdain for diplomacy and contempt for international institutions is likely the greatest factor. People remember what the Republicans are like.Report

  8. Avatar DRS says:

    I’m genuinely amazed that you would write this post, Kazzy. And maybe just a bit disappointed too.Report

    • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to DRS says:

      In BBCland, Israel must not exist, but Jews there favor Romney 3-to-1, so there’s that. Jerusalem Post:

      Israeli Jews prefer Republican candidate Mitt Romney over US President Barack Obama by an almost 3:1 margin, according to a “Peace Index” poll conducted by the Israel Democracy Institute and Tel Aviv University that was released Sunday.

      The polling figures stand in stark contrast to polls taken of American Jews, which show they prefer Obama by a similarly wide margin. An American Jewish Committee poll at the end of September showed US Jews favoring Obama over Romney 63%-27%.

      The “Peace Index” poll also puts Israel at odds with most of the rest of the world, which – according to a BBC poll published last week of nearly 22,000 people in 21 countries — found Obama favored by an average of 50%, with only 9% for Romney. The Democrat was the preferred candidate in every country polled, except for Pakistan.

      Asked “in terms of Israeli interests, who would be preferable to win the elections next month in the US,” 57.2% of Israeli Jews said Romney, while only 21.5% said Obama.

      Among Israeli Arabs, the numbers were reversed, with 45% opting for Obama, and 15% for Romney.Report