In Western Europe, few people can imagine Romney in office. In China, officials have been focused on the intrigues of their impending leadership transition, though many worry that both American candidates have been beating up on their country instead of pummeling each other. And in the Middle East, political chaos has kept many activists and officials from contemplating the election much at all.
In Europe, leaders have good reason to avoid the issue: From the Scottish Highlands to the heel of Italy, it’s Obama country all the way. One survey last month from the German Marshall Fund found Europeans breaking 75 percent for Obama and 8 percent for Romney. Even conservative leaders have maneuvered themselves to appear closer to the U.S. president, reasoning that they can get their own electoral bump from doing so, although popular enthusiasm for Obama has diminished after a public frenzy in 2008.
Three years into an economic crisis in the euro zone that has threatened to spill into the United States, many European leaders have built alliances with the Obama administration that they worry would reset to zero under Romney, analysts say. The Republican challenger has pointed to Europeans as symbols of the big-government socialist state that he says Obama wants to build.
In Germany, the bulwark of austerity in Europe, Chancellor Angela Merkel would probably prefer an Obama victory, analysts say, although Ronald Reagan was a hero of her youth. Her center-right Christian Democratic Union has historically aligned with Republicans, but Merkel has focused on a vision of fiscal sustainability that includes high taxes along with lower government spending.
A mid-October Emnid poll for the Bild newspaper found that 82 percent of Germans expected Obama to win, compared with 11 percent expecting a Romney victory.
“There is so much unfinished business” between the United States and the rest of the world, said Stefan Kornelius, the foreign editor of the German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung. Merkel “is afraid the Republicans would have to go through the same process of understanding the euro crisis again.”
Top Christian Democratic Union officials who visited the Republican National Convention in Tampa this summer were careful to tell German newspapers that they were friendly with Democrats, too.
The same dynamic is on display in other European countries led by conservatives.
In Britain, Romney is viewed as representing a party that has swung further and further to the right on social issues, thus sharing less affinity with his counterparts on this side of the Atlantic than Republicans once did. The coalition government headed by Prime Minister David Cameron, a Conservative, has embraced the cause of same-sex marriage and vowed to vigorously combat global warming.