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.
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.
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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.