Global Poll: Obama Overwhelmingly Preferred to Romney



22 October 2012 – A new 21-nation poll for BBC World Service indicates that citizens around the world would strongly prefer to see Barack Obama re-elected as US President rather than his Republican challenger Mitt Romney.
The poll of 21,797 people, conducted by GlobeScan/PIPA between July 3 and September 3, 2012, indicates that Obama is preferred to Romney in 20 of the 21 countries polled. Overall, an average of 50 per cent would prefer to see Obama elected, compared to only 9 per cent who prefer Romney. The rest express no preference between the two.
Of all the countries polled, France is currently the most strongly pro-Obama, with 72 per cent wanting him to be re-elected and just 2 per cent preferring Romney. Australia (67%), Canada (66%), Nigeria (66%), and the UK (65%) are among the other countries with large majorities favouring Obama.
Pakistan, where 14 per cent want to see Romney elected compared to 11 per cent who prefer Obama, is the only country where the current President is not the favoured candidate—but here, three-quarters (75%) express no opinion. The countries with the largest proportions favouring Mitt Romney are Kenya (18%) and Poland (16%).
Despite Obama facing a closer race than in 2008, his support around the world has not slipped relative to four years ago. The current results are broadly in line with the results of a similar BBC World Service poll conducted in 2008, which found that Obama was the preferred choice for US President in all 23 nations polled. Compared to four years ago, support for Obama’s election has risen in seven of the 15 countries polled in both years (France, Brazil, the UK, Panama, Indonesia, India, and Turkey), dropped in four (Kenya, Mexico, Poland, and China), and is steady in four (Australia, Canada, Nigeria, and Germany).
The emphatic preference for Obama’s re-election worldwide is in sharp contrast to the state of public opinion in the USA, where polls now show the two candidates to be nearly tied in public backing.
GlobeScan Director of Global Insights Sam Mountford comments: “While the presidential race in America looks like going down to the wire, global public opinion appears to be firmly behind Barack Obama’s re-election—even if two in five express no preference between the two candidates.”
Steven Kull, Director of PIPA comments: “Obama’s election in 2008 led to a major recovery of America’s image in the world and people are showing little interest in changing horses now.”
A total of 21,797 citizens across 21 countries were interviewed face-to-face, by telephone, or online between July 3, 2012 and September 3, 2012. Polling was conducted for BBC World Service by the international polling firm GlobeScan and its research partners in each country. In six of the 21 countries, the sample was limited to major urban areas. The margin of error per country ranges from +/- 2.0 to 3.7 per cent, 19 times out of 20.
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Participating Countries

BBC2531 map v2
In Brazil, China, Indonesia, Kenya, Panama, and Turkey urban samples were used.

Click to enlarge charts.

For full methodology, question wording, and detailed results, including region-by-region data for all key questions, please see the drop-down links at the bottom of this article.

Media Contacts

For media interviews with the participating pollsters, please contact:

Sam Mountford, Director, Global Insights
GlobeScan Incorporated, London
+44 20 7928 5368
(Mobile: +44 7854 132625)
Oliver Martin, Director, Global Development
GlobeScan Incorporated, Toronto
+1 416 969 3073
(Mobile: +1 416 721 3544)

About GlobeScan

GlobeScan Incorporated is an international opinion research consultancy. We provide global organisations with evidence-based insight to help them set strategy and shape their communications. Companies, multilateral institutions, governments, and NGOs trust GlobeScan for our unique expertise across reputation management, sustainability, and stakeholder relations. GlobeScan conducts research in over 90 countries, is ISO 9001-2008 quality certified and a signatory to the UN Global Compact.
Established in 1987, GlobeScan is an independent, management-owned company with offices in Toronto, London, and San Francisco. For more information, visit:

About The Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA)

The Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) of the Center for International and Security Studies at the University of Maryland, undertakes research on attitudes in publics around the world on a variety of international issues and manages the international research project. For more information, visit:

About BBC World Service

BBC World Service is an international multimedia broadcaster, delivering a wide range of language and regional services on radio, TV, online and via wireless handheld devices. It uses multiple platforms to reach its weekly audience of 166 million globally, including shortwave, AM, FM, digital satellite and cable channels. Its news sites include audio and video content and offer opportunities to join the global debate. BBC World Service offers its multilingual radio content to partner FM stations around the world and has numerous partnerships supplying content to news websites, mobile phones and other wireless handheld devices as well as TV channels. For more information, visit:

Backgrounder: Region-by-Region Results

North America
In Canada, two thirds of respondents (66%) prefer Obama over Romney as the next President of the USA, with just 9 per cent favouring the Republican candidate. Support among Canadians for the current incumbent in the White House is thus at the same level as in 2008 when he ran against John McCain, and well above the global average of 50 per cent.
Latin America
In the four Latin American countries surveyed, respondents mostly support Barack Obama rather than Mitt Romney in the US Presidential election. In Brazil and in Panama, support for Obama is particularly high (65% in both countries), and has risen compared with 2008 levels (up 14 and 22 points, respectively).
Large pluralities of Mexicans (43%) and Peruvians (39%) also prefer Obama over Romney, but these proportions are significantly below the 21-country global average (50%). In these two countries, 50 per cent or more express no preference between the two candidates. In Mexico, support for Obama is not as strong as in 2008 when he was facing McCain—54 per cent backed him then.
European public opinion strongly favours Obama over his Republican challenger. France is the most strongly pro-Obama of all participating countries, with 72 per cent wanting him to be re-elected—22 per cent above the global average —and just 2 per cent preferring Romney.
Britons and Germans are also supportive of Obama, with 65 and 64 per cent respectively saying they prefer the Democrat candidate. The percentage of Germans favouring Obama has remained stable compared to 2008, but Obama’s support in the UK has risen by seven points.
Spaniards are not as bullish as their core EU counterparts. Though a large plurality of 45 per cent supports Obama against only 1 per cent who favour Romney—the smallest level of Republican support in the survey—a majority does not express any preference between the two candidates. In this way, views in Spain resemble those observed in Poland and Turkey, where pluralities supporting Obama (34% in both cases) are much lower than the global average (50%), and are outnumbered by majorities without any preference (50% and 57%, respectively). Furthermore, support for Obama in Poland has slipped since 2008, when it was recorded at 38 per cent. Poland is also one of the countries where support for Romney is strongest, with 16 per cent favouring the Republican candidate—the second highest proportion after Kenya (18%).
In the two Sub-Saharan countries surveyed, a preference for Obama in the next US Presidential election is clear. In both Kenya and Nigeria, two-thirds of the population (66%) say they would prefer to see Obama elected. Opinion among the Nigerian public is the same as it was in 2008 in the run-up to Obama’s first election (66% Democratic vs 11% Republican).
However, support for Obama in Kenya has plummeted, dropping 21 points, from 87 per cent four years ago. And, with 18 per cent saying they would prefer to see Romney win the election, Kenya is the country where support for the Republican challenger is the highest. Only 5 per cent of Kenyans preferred McCain over Obama in 2008.
The Asian countries surveyed are mostly split between two groups: one where the level of support for Obama is strong and above the global average (50%), and another where pluralities of respondents who prefer to see Obama defeat Romney are outnumbered by majorities without any preference between the candidates.
In the first group, Australia is by far the most strongly pro-Obama, with 67 per cent wanting him to be re-elected—the second-highest percentage in the survey (after France). This emphatic pro-Obama sentiment matches the level of support Obama registered in 2008 when he was opposed by John McCain. However, twice as many Australians favour today’s Republican candidate (13% for Romney now vs 6% for McCain then). Indonesians and South Koreans also have a strong preference for Obama over Romney, with 59 and 58 per cent respectively favouring the candidate of the Democrats. In Indonesia, support for Obama has risen 13 points since 2008, when just 46 per cent favoured his election.
India tops the second group of Asian countries, with 36 per cent favouring Obama, followed by Japan (33%). In Malaysia and China, 28 per cent feel the same. However, support for Obama is rather muted in these four countries, as is seen in the high proportions of respondents unable to choose between the candidates, which range from 52 per cent in India to 64 per cent in China. The trajectories of support for Obama over his Republican opponents have followed opposite directions in the two Asian giants. In India, support has risen by 12 points over the past four years, up from 24 per cent, whereas in China it slipped 7 points, down from 35 per cent in 2008.
Isolated from the two main groups above, Pakistan is the only country in the survey where Romney enjoys more support than Obama (14% vs 11%). However, this small difference in public favour is less striking than is the fact that 75 per cent of Pakistanis express no preference.


In total 21,797 citizens in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kenya, Malaysia, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, Poland, South Korea, Spain, Turkey, and the United Kingdom, were interviewed face-to-face or by telephone between July 3, 2012 and September 3, 2012. Polling was conducted for BBC World Service by GlobeScan and its research partners in each country.
In Brazil, China, Indonesia, Kenya, Panama, and Turkey urban samples were used. The margin of error per country ranges from +/- 2.0 to 3.7 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

Sample Size (unweighted)
Field dates
Sample frame
Survey methodology
Type of sample
Australia 1009 July 27 – August 11, 2012 18+ Telephone National
Brazil 828 July 26 – August 23, 2012 18-69 Face-toface Urban1
Canada 1002 July 20 – August 8, 2012 18+ Telephone National
China 1000 July 30 – August 15, 2012 18+ Telephone Urban2
France 825 July 5 – 12, 2012 15+ Telephone National
Germany 1002 July 13 – August 6, 2012 16-70 Telephone National
India 1010 August 7 – 16, 2012 18+ Face-to-face National
Indonesia 1000 July 3 – 18, 2012 18+ Face-to-face Urban3
Japan 1000 August 1 – 5, 2012 20-69 Online National
Kenya 1000 August 19 – 25, 2012 18+ Face-to-face Urban4
Malaysia 1212 July 3 – 31, 2012 21+ Face-to-face National
Mexico 1000 August 9 – 13, 2012 18+ Face-to-face National
Nigeria 1000 August 13 – 19, 2012 18+ Face-to-face National
Pakistan 2375 July 22–28, 2012 18+ Face-to-face National
Panama 1005 July 28 – August 10, 2012 18+ Telephone Urban5
Peru 1007 August 10–18, 2012 18-70 Face-to-face National
Poland 1011 August 14–22, 2012 18+ Face-to-face National
South Korea 703 August 13–17, 2012 18+ Telephone National
Spain 800 July 12–20, 2012 18+ Telephone National
Turkey 1002 July 12 – September 3, 2012 15+ Face-to-face Urban6
United Kingdom 1001 July 3 – August 18, 2012 18+ Telephone National
  1. In Brazil the survey was conducted in Belo Horizonte, Brasilia, Curitiba, Goiânia, Porto Alegre, Recife, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, and São Paulo, representing 18 per cent of the national population.
  2. In China the survey was conducted in Beijing, Beiliu, Chengdu, Dujiangyan, Fenyang, Fuyang, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Manzhouli, Quanzhou, Qujing, Shanghai, Shenyang, Shuangcheng, Wuhan, Xi’an, Xining, and Zhengzhou, representing 45 per cent of the national adult population.
  3. In Indonesia the survey was conducted in Bandung, Jakarta, Makassar, Medan, and Surabaya, representing 27 per cent of the national adult population.
  4. In Kenya the survey was conducted in Nairobi, Nyanza, Riff Valley, and the Central, Coast, Eastern and Western Regions, representing 37 per cent of the national adult population.
  5. In Panama the survey was conducted in Panamá, Chiriquí, Colón, Coclé, Veraguas, Herrera, Bocas del Toro and Los Santos, representing 70 per cent of the adult population.
  6. In Turkey the survey was conducted in Adana, Ankara, Antalya, Bursa, Diyarbakir, Erzurum, Istanbul, Izmir, Konya, Samsun, and Zonguldak, representing 56 per cent of the national adult population.

Research Partners

Country Research Institute Location Contact
Australia GlobeScan Toronto Oliver Martin
+1 416 969 3073
Brazil Market Analysis Florianópolis Fabián Echegaray
+55 48 3364 0000
Canada GlobeScan Toronto Oliver Martin
+1 416 969 3073
China GlobeScan Toronto Oliver Martin
+1 416 969 3073
France Efficience 3 Paris and Rheims Christian de Thieulloy
+33 1 4316 5442
Germany Ri*QUESTA GmbH Teningen Bernhard Rieder
+49 7641 93 43 36
India Team C Voter Noida Yashwant Deshmukh
+91 120 424 7135
Indonesia DEKA Marketing Research Jakarta Irma Malibari
+62 21 723 6901
Japan GlobeScan Toronto Oliver Martin
+1 416 969 3073
Kenya Research Path Associates Ltd. Nairobi Jeremy Mwololo
+254 20 2734770
Malaysia International Islamic University Malaysia Kuala Lumpur Prof. Dato’ Sri Dr. Syed Arabi Idid
+60 3 6196 4870 (ext 5097)
Mexico Parametría Mexico City Francisco Abundis
+52 55 2614 0089
Nigeria Market Trends International Lagos Dr. Jo Ebhomenye
+234 173 47384
Pakistan Gallup Pakistan Islamabad Ijaz Shafi Gilani
+92 51 2655630
Panama Dichter & Neira Panama City Gabriel Neira
+507 236 4000
Peru Datum Lima Urpi Torrado
+511 215 0600
Poland CBOS Warsaw Mirosława Grabowska
+48 22 693 46 93
South Korea Hyundai Research Institute Seoul Seongkeun Choi
+82 2 2072 6223
Spain Sigma Dos Int. Madrid Gines Garrido
+34 91 360 0474
Turkey Yöntem Research Consultancy Ltd. Istanbul Bülent Gündoğmuş
+90 212 278 1219
United Kingdom Populus Data Solutions London Patrick Diamond
+44 207 553 4148

Question Wording

Q8. The candidates for the US Presidential election in November are Barack Obama of the Democratic Party, and Mitt Romney of the Republican Party. Who would you prefer to see elected president of the United States?.

01 – Barack Obama of the Democratic Party
02 – Mitt Romney of the Republican Party
03 – Either
04 – Neither
05 – No difference
97 – Other
99 – DK/NA