Tales from the Trail

Germans would give Obama landslide win – poll

July 6, 2008

BERLIN – If Germans could vote in the U.S. presidential election, Barack Obama would win a staggering 72 percent of their vote, according to an opinion poll by the respected Emnid institute published on Sunday in Bild am Sonntag newspaper. Republican John McCain would get 11 percent.berlin.jpg
 
Germans have no say, of course, in the U.S. presidential election. But they have long wished they did. 
 
And because the American influence on their country has been so pervasive and their fate so intertwined with Washington’s in the six decades since the end of World War Two (see everything from Care packages to the Airlift, the Cold War, their central bank and Pershing missiles), Germans may well follow U.S. politics and especially presidential elections closer than in any other country in the world.
 
With a feared “World War Three” looming in the middle of their divided country for more than 40 years before the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, it should come as little surprise that they care a lot about who’s in the White House and have an amazingly thorough understanding of the candidates’ positions.
 
The ties between the two countries sometimes became even a little too intense. One former chancellor, Helmut Schmidt, kept warning U.S. President Jimmy Carter to stop treating West Germany like a “51st state.”
 
So the Emnid poll is worth taking a closer look at — even if Germans won’t be able to cast their ballots in November.
 
Obama, who is rumored to be mulling a trip to Berlin later in the summer, would win an even more lopsided 86 percent of Germans with high school diplomas and an even higher 77 percent of those living in the formerly communist east.
 
The results are all the more astonishing against the backdrop that Germany has a conservative chancellor, Angela Merkel, whose popularity far surpasses that of the leader of the Social Democrats, Kurt Beck, the more natural ally to Obama’s Democrats.

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage.

Photo credit: Reuters/Tobias Schwarz.  Fireworks illuminate the sky next to a U.S. national flag at the new U.S. embassy during its opening ceremony in Berlin July 4, 2008.

Comments
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Perhaps, Mr. & Mrs. Reader, the Emnid institute can be persuaded to conduct a similar opinion poll in the United States. It might be interesting to see a poll by a foreign pollster…and especially one from a country whose citizens are apparently torn between wanting to be independent of the U.S. and wanting to be U.S. voters.

It’s nice to be so popular. Fame (and popularity) are fleeting, of course. We Americans are still enjoying a post-World War II relationship with Europe unlike anything we experienced after World War I. However, if we weren’t number one economically and militarily, Germans (for instance) would not give us the time of day. I’m not being arrogant, just realistic. That’s the way of it.

A coin flip can be just as good as an opinion poll, incidentally. It’s all a great big guess anyway.

I’ve flipped my 50:50 coin three times already concerning Mr. Obama: 1) nomination (I was correct) 2) election (he’ll win) & 3) vice presidential running mate (I’m waiting). However, I have not flipped my trusty coin concerning the odds of Mr. Obama’s winning the general election.

I guess I’ll do that now.

It looks like 4) Mr. Obama will win by at least 9%, i.e., 54% to 45%, with perhaps 1% of the popular vote going to minor-party candidates.

It’s fairly uneventful making these coin tosses. After all, 50:50 means that I have an equal chance of being wrong as right, incorrect as correct. I’m feeling lucky though.

While I’m at it, I’ll flip my coin a fifth time…this time to see where we might be headed on the popular vote. Just like my previous coin tosses, if I wait too long to do it, it makes it look like I’m not willing to take a risk.

When Mr. Gore narrowly won the popular vote in 2000 (but just as narrowly lost the electoral vote and the presidency)…3.7% of the popular vote of some 105 million was shared by 5 minor-party candidates, i.e., Messrs. Nader, Buchanan, Browne, Phillips & Hagelin.

When Mr. Kerry narrowly lost the popular vote in 2004 (and just as narrowly lost the electoral vote and the presidency)…only 1% of the popular vote of some 122 million was shared by 7 minor-party candidates, i.e., Messrs. Nader, Badnarik, Peroutka, Cobb, Peltier, Brown & Calero. Mr. Nader’s share plummeted by some 85% and Mr. Buchanan did not run (Nader was an independent). The Libertarian percentage also declined somewhat.

The bottom line is that in four years (between 2000 and 2004), the number of minor-party candidates increased by 40% but their total share of the popular vote declined by almost 75%. On the flip side, the two major-party candidates increased their total share of the popular vote to 99% of all votes cast.

There is no reason to believe that the disenchantment with minor-party candidates will change on November 4th of 2008 (although the number of candidates may increase). Mr. Nader is running as an independent again. Mr. Barr is on the Libertarian ticket…but he is simply a disenchanted former republican house member who followed the party line while in congress.

Also, there is every reason to believe that the popular vote will increase yet again. There is a lot of excitement out there for the democrats. A lot of new voters have registered, including many young people who are well informed because of their computer and internet literacy & savvy. This has led to their becoming politically sophisticated as well.

These young people are weary of the conflict in SW Asia, and can see where the republican party has taken America in 8 years, i.e., mostly downhill. They also see how a republican president can block progress with the help of a republican minority in the senate and in the house. Veto power can be chilling when misused.

The popular vote increased by 16% between 2000 and 2004 (almost 17 million additional voters).

During this my fifth 2008 coin toss…5a) on the way into the air, the number of voters increased by at least another 5% over 2004 (roughly a minimum of 6 million more). As I caught my coin, it told me that 5b) Mr. Obama will get the lion’s share of these new voters. I’m projecting that Mr. Obama will win over Mr. McCain by some 11.5 million votes (9% of all votes cast).

The question is how the popular vote will translate into electoral votes. I’m tempted to make my sixth and final coin toss now…and I will. Mr. Obama will 6) win the majority of the electoral vote and may even tip the scales over 300 (270 are needed to win).

Of course, all of this is 50:50…the odds being just as good as any professional statistical survey with a random sample and a random response…even that German one referenced above.

OK Jack

 

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