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October 30th 2012 print

Steve Kates

What the Beeb bleeped

The recent poll professing to show global enthusiasm for Barack Obama's re-election might have produced a different result if a few more countries had been included -- Israel and Taiwan, for example


Let us return briefly to that poll conducted by the BBC looking at the relative support for Mitt Romney versus Obama in the election next month. What you see in the chart is support for Romney in comparison with Obama in rank order . The country with the highest level of support for Romney is Kenya, but even there it doesn’t reach 20%. In Australia the support for Romney is an almost non-existent 7%.


 

What I wrote on the earlier post was this:

For there to be virtually no appreciation of Romney anywhere in the world, and a preference for Obama, is quite surprising. I do note, however, that Israel was left off the list which I think unsurprising, given the left attitudes of the BBC, but it is an omission of quite some importance. Leaving the survey as it is makes it seem the entire world is of the same view, but including what I think would be the likely outcome in Israel would, if published, perhaps have a positive effect on Romney’s vote.  

This omission has now been corrected in a poll undertaken in Israel and reported in The Jerusalem Post. The name, "Peace Index Polls" makes me a bit suspicious of their objectivity but, even so, we find the following which are completely different from the other poll results:

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. 

It may be of some significance that the question is not structured in terms of who the respondent would vote for but in relation to Israeli interests. It is not impossible to imagine there would be some who would think that it would make no difference to Israel who won the American election but would nevertheless have preferred one of the candidates had that been asked directly. But in the absence of other information, there is almost a 3:1 preference for Romney, as shown by this poll indicating more than half the population is in the Romney camp.

Had the BBC included this result, it would have been a complete outlier in comparison with the countries they did survey, but there is no surprise in the numbers. If there is any surprise, it is that the plurality is not larger than it is.

I also suspect, now that I see the Israeli result, something similar might have occurred had the same question been asked in Taiwan. I had a look to see if there was a Taiwanese result online somewhere, but nothing came up. For some countries, the population in general actively realises that its own national defence is dependent on American foreign policy. And yet, and yet, South Koreans, which would be inside the gulag within the year if American troops were not lined up along their border, support Obama just as strongly as the rest.

 

Steve Kates teaches economics at RMIT University. His most recent book is Free Market Economics: an Introduction for the General Reader