Swedes back Obama in US election: survey

If Swedes could vote in US elections, President Barack Obama would handily beat either Mitt Romney or Rick Santorum, according to a new survey, which also reveals Swedes can't seem to get enough of US politics.

Swedes back Obama in US election: survey

Seventy-four percent of Swedes indicated they would vote for Obama whether the sitting Democratic president faced either of the top two Republican challengers, an online survey carried out by the YouGov polling firm shows.

And while less than half of US voters currently approve of Obama’s record as president, 62 percent of Swedes say they are satisfied with Obama’s performance.

The YouGov survey also revealed Swedes’ concerns about what might happen should the Republicans retake the White House in November 2012, with 52 percent indicating an Obama loss would have a negative effect on the world’s security.

Around one in three Swedes also believes a Republican win would have negative consequences for European foreign policy and the European economy.

In addition to questions about possible outcomes for the US election, the YouGov survey also looked at the extent to which Swedes are following developments in the US electoral process.

According to the results, 81 percent of Swedes said they follow media reports the US presidential election, while nearly six in ten reported being “interested” in the US election.

YouGov also found that 498 articles about the November 2012 US elections had appeared in the Swedish press since the turn of the year, compared with only 107 about the elections in neighbouring Finland, which actually took place in late January and early February.

And articles mentioning either US Republican presidential challengers Romney and Santorum outnumbered those about the elected Finnish president Sauli Niinistö by more than four to one, according to figures compiled by YouGov using media monitoring service Retriever.

“That says a lot about the Swedes’ – and Swedish journalists’ – interest in the coming American election. That despite the fact that there is a long way to go before November 6th,” head of analysis at YouGov Opinion, Stina Morian, said in a statement.

Speaking on Tuesday at a panel discussing the survey results Eric Sundström, editor of the left-leaning online political journal Dagens Arena, said Swedes’ fascination with US elections goes beyond an interest in politics.

“US elections feel a little like Star Wars,” he said.

“They are portrayed like a long, drawn-out battle between good and evil.”

Also important, according to Sundström, is the fact that, for decades, Swedes have “looked up to” the United States and that Swedish newspaper editors know their readers like to read stories about the US.

Mathias Sundin of the Liberal Party (Folkpartiet) who helped on the 2008 presidential campaign of Republican candidate John McCain also cited the competitive nature of US electoral politics as another reason for Swedes’ continued interest in who becomes US president.

“US election campaigns are full of drama; they are fun to watch,” he said.

“The bottom line is that it’s really important who the US president is.”

David Landes

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