It’s hard to get video feed coverage of the American election. The internet is slow here, and you have to multitask and be patient. But at my age, patience is something I do well, so I am pretty well up to snuff on what our American friends are up to. I wonder if America knows, however, how the rest of the world (TROTW) sees what is happening in America. The election in the States may still be up for grabs, but TROTW doesn’t think so.

The Economist, which I buy occassionally, has taken the trouble to find out. They have divided up TROTW into electoral college votes, just as America itself does, according to population. Then they have taken an online poll on McCain/Obama and published the results on their homepage. There is no contest.

McCain leads in just four countries: Georgia, Moldova, Macedonia, and most surprisingly, Cuba. Obama has all the rest, including Canada. But what is most telling is the margin of victory. McCain leads by a slim 52/48 % in Moldova, and no higher than 55/45 % in Cuba. Obama, by contrast leads by 83/17 % in China, 86/14 % in Russia, 88/12 % in Canada and 92/8 % in Saudi Arabia. In Indonesia, where Obama spent part of his childhood, he is running 97/3 % ahead of McCain. Here in Malaysia it is a more modest 89/11 %. TROTW has spoken, and it speaks well of Obama.

As fun as this kind of thing can be, there is a serious message here. The world has given Obama, and through him, the United States, a huge benefit of the doubt. The world wants to believe, needs to believe, that the United States can once again be a power for good. There was a time when America was so highly respected and admired that emerging countries, like Malaysia, adopted their national flag after the American pattern. An incompetent Johnson, a venal Nixon, a genial, but equally venal Reagan, a philandering Clinton, and two of the worst presidents in American history, both named Bush, have done much to tarnish the American image abroad. But maybe, just maybe, the world will get what it has long waited for: An America worth respecting again.

Join the fun. You can vote online at http://www.economist.com/vote2008/

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