TCS Daily

Kerry Way Ahead in New Poll

By James K. Glassman - September 9, 2004 12:00 AM

At last, some good news for Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry!

A new poll, using a huge sample of 34,330 people, shows Kerry is favored by 26 percentage points over the incumbent president, George W. Bush.

The survey, which has Kerry leading, 46 percent to 20 percent, marks an incredible turnaround from the latest Time Newsweek and Gallup polls, which have Bush up by between 7 and 11 points.

Only one problem for Kerry. The new poll, by a public opinion group called GlobeScan and the University of Maryland, did not survey Americans. It surveyed people in 35 foreign countries, from Mexico to Germany to Thailand. And, unfortunately, for Kerry, these folks won't be voting in the U.S. presidential election on Nov. 2.

"World opinion," says an article trumpeting this silly survey on the front page of the Financial Times this morning, "is unlikely to sway American voters. A...poll of 798 Americans...showed that 74 percent of undecided U.S. voters would be unaffected by global attitudes about the presidential race."

That sentence, almost certainly, is meant to show dumb and insular Americans are. But think about it. How many French voters would be swayed by American attitudes toward Jacques Chirac? Do Germans really care what people in Iowa think of Gerhard Schroeder?

Perhaps, however, Kerry, with his French heritage, can take solace in the fact that the French prefer him over Bush by a margin of 64 percent to 5 percent. Germans give Kerry a margin of 74 percent to 10 percent. Kerry also leads in Spain, 45 percent to 7 percent. Japan backed Kerry, 43 percent to 23 percent; Canada, 61 percent to 16 percent; China, 62 percent to 12 percent; Mexico, 38 percent to 18 percent; and Britain, 47 percent to 16 percent.

More interesting were the countries that favored Bush, including Poland, Thailand and the Philippines.

There may be reason to worry that so many people around the world - including in countries that are our allies - don't like the incumbent president. It's harder to get things done internationally if foreign publics disapprove of you. On the other hand, Americans want a president who does what is right, no matter what Brazilians and Danes think.

Take the issue of climate change. Europeans, especially, criticize Bush for not acquiescing to the Kyoto Protocol. But that agreement would be disastrous, not just for the U.S. economy, but, even more, for the economies of developing nations. Citizens in those countries may not understand it, but Bush has done them a huge favor in opposing the treaty - even if his opposition has unfairly branded him a "unilateralist."

Ditto, terrorism. Just as in the 1930s, many nations are blind to the threat of jihad, just as they were to Hitler. They think appeasement will work, and they fear what they see as America's aggressive response to the attacks of 9/11.

Imagine, however, if the United States had reacted to terrorism the way that Spain did, pulling its troops out of Iraq when Madrid trains were bombed. Or consider the incredible behavior of the French in response to the kidnapping of two journalists. In light of its position on the Iraq war, France could have hoped to be sheltered from terrorism. So its diplomats have been pleading with the hostage-takers: Why us?

Bush is dealing with the harsh reality of terrorism. He's not trying to win a worldwide popularity contest.

The results of this odd global poll are far more troubling for the Kerry campaign. They show just how out of touch the Democratic candidate -boffo in Rome -- has grown from U.S. voters. To win, he's got to appeal more to Kansas City and Dubuque, even if it means appealing less to Paris and Berlin.


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