IF AUSTRALIA were the 51st US state, it would vote overwhelmingly for Barack Obama.
A University of Sydney survey of attitudes towards the US found 76 per cent of Australians would support Senator Obama if they had a vote in next week’s presidential election. Just 13 per cent said they would back John McCain.
That is a bigger pro-Obama margin than opinion polls are showing in any of the 50 US states. The latest polls show the only states where Senator Obama enjoys comparable dominance are Hawaii (where he has 68 per cent of the vote) and New York (62 per cent), according to the Real Clear Politics website. The survey by Simon Jackman, a visiting professor at the university’s US Studies Centre, involved a telephone poll of 800 people and an online questionnaire of another 3000 respondents in September.
It found support for Senator Obama was strongest amongst Labor voters at 87 per cent but was still an impressive 60 per cent amongst Coalition voters.
Respondents were asked which of the two candidates would make a better president in terms of America’s effect on Australian interests. Just under half of those surveyed nominated Senator Obama, compared to 11 per cent who pointed to Senator McCain and 34 per cent who said it would make no difference to Australia which candidate won in the US.
Asked to position American and Australian political leaders on a scale from left to right, the respondents put Senator Obama to the left of the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, and the ALP, which were seen as being centre-left.
The Opposition Leader, Malcolm Turnbull, and Senator Obama’s vice-presidential running mate, Joe Biden, were placed at the centre, the Liberal Party at the centre-right and Senator McCain and President George Bush at the right.
The survey also found 80 per cent of Australians thought the US was heading in the wrong direction, 69 per cent agreed they had felt either anger or shame about things the US had done, and two-thirds of Australians attributed negative stereotypes to Americans, such as being violent, greedy or ignorant.