Obama's victory dramatically boosts views of America in the UK

Building on all the anecdotal evidence of improving views of America around the world since the election, here is some hard opinion data. It comes from a daily poll by PoliticsHome of a politically balanced panel of 5,000 voters across the UK who are asked to say every day whether they have a positive or a negative impression of a selection of countries. You can see the dramatic change after the election, with the USA surging past Japan, France and Germany in the net approval ratings.

Postcards to the president

Reuters has filmed a series of video messages from people in a dozen countries congratulating Barack Obama on his election victory and offering suggestions, requests and advice. You can submit your own video message on YouTube, tagging it postcardstopresident. This builds on Reuters excellent Voices without Votes project. Here are some views from Iraq (mainly in Arabic, except for the first one, translations in the reuters article).

Meanwhile, the Guardian newspaper has set up a Flick group to upload images as a message to President-elect Obama.


Check out the President-elect's new website, the appropriately named www.change.gov. It has pages outlining Obama's plans on foreign policy, Iraq and the environment. You can share your visions and there is even a section to apply for jobs in the new administration, and it appears from the application for that non-American may be considered for some positions (I submitted an expression of interest, semi-seriously, as my American wife is now open to ending her self-imposed exile abroad)... Only 73 days to go before his inauguration.

What was your election night story?

I take it many of you were up all night on the 4th? Please write up your experiences in a comment or on our facebook page.

I was watching the results come in with Iraqi & Lebanese friends in Beirut, and Obama's stirring acceptance speech came in at 7am local time, just before I had to catch a flight back to London. I had spent the previous few days in Syria and Lebanon wearing one of the excellent Obama t-shirts designed by our friends at Agent Actif in France with the slogan "Na'am Nustutiyya" (Arabic for "Yes We Can") and received so many enthusiastic comments from taxi-drivers, shopkeepers and staff at the United Nations office where I was squatting for a few days to work. (To be fair, there was also some cynicism - after 8 years of the Bush Adminstration, and many decades of US interference in the region under both parties - many people are waiting to see how Obama acts in office before they give him their approval).

The role of international support in Obama's victory

As we begin to come down from the high of celebrations and recover from lost sleep it is worth reflecting on what, if any, role international support had in Obama's election. We've had skeptical comments on this blog from both Americans who were angry that foreigners should take such an interest in their elections and from Obama-supporters who were genuinely concerned that international support could be used against Obama. In fact the McCain campaign did tried to do this at times, for example by accusing him of being a mere "celebrity" like Britany Spears, after huge crowds gathered to hear him in Berlin in June, and also by drawing attention to approving comments spoken by a Hamas official. However Carl Cannon, the Washington Bureau Chief of the Readers Digest (who wrote about TWWOC a few months ago), includes international support as one of his ten reasons why Obama won:

"Americans have been concerned with our standing in the world since Thomas Jefferson prefaced the Declaration of Independence with the notation that “a respect to the decent opinion of mankind” required Americans to lay out their case to the international community. We are still doing so—and the Reader’s Digest global poll shows that the world is still listening, and still watching what we do. They are especially interested in our presidential elections. This time, they wanted the only child of a visiting Kenyan student and an independent, young white woman from Kansas to become the leader of the free world. They got their wish, in one small part because Americans still desire the approbation of the world."

A new America

At Newseum you can browse the front pages for 5th and 6th November of over 300 newspapers around the world (thanks to Ben at Avaaz for a pointer to this). Here are a few of our favourites:

Add a message to Avaaz's wall in Washington DC

Add a message to Avaaz's wall in DC: "As citizens across the world, we congratulate you on your election, and celebrate your campaign commitments to sign a strong new global treaty on climate change, close Guantanamo prison and end torture, withdraw carefully from Iraq, and double aid to fight poverty. No one country or leader can meet the world's most pressing challenges alone, but working together as one world in a spirit of dialogue and cooperation, yes we can bring real and lasting change. "

Obama's message to the world

In his historic acceptance speech last night, President-elect Obama addressed us as well: "And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces, to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of the world, our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand. To those who would tear the world down: We will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security: We support you. And to all those who have wondered if America's beacon still burns as bright: Tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity and unyielding hope."

Send a message back to Obama and America by posting a photo on: WelcomeBackAmerica.org

Watch the results come in

There are lots of sites to look at. The BBC has an hour-by-hour guide for the night ahead, and the big US news networks all have pages to display results and will call states for either candidate as soon as most of the votes are counted including CNN and Fox. To get some perspective on this historic day, you can see maps of the outcomes of all past US elections since 1789.

American friends - Please vote today, because we can't

The world waits for Obama...

It is hardly worth posting articles from endorsing Obama, there are too many to begin to enumerate and link too. Pick up any newspaper, browse a blog, turn on a TV, google for "Obama + country X" and all around the world and you will find a hopeful expectation that on Tuesday Americans will elect a President who has won our respect and who is not only the world's clear favourite from amongst the two candidates, but someone of principle and ability who we genuinely believe will be a great president for both America and the rest of us.

One eloquent paragraph worth quoting comes from Johann Hari, writing in the UK Independent, explains that the election of Obama would reinforce "one of the reasons why so many of us love the United States, even as we hate some of its actions. The country is capable of many crimes – but it is also open and free enough to produce the antibodies that begin to put them right. It gives us Dick Cheney, but also Noam Chomsky. It gives us Jim Crow, but also Barack Obama. Is there any better symbol of how the American Revolution can correct itself than the realisation that the first 26 Presidents of the US could have owned the 44th President as a piece of property?"