WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Gallup Polls of four close U.S. partners in developed Asia show residents clearly favor Sen. Barack Obama over Sen. John McCain to become the next president of the United States. Obama is preferred more than 4-to-1 in Japan and Australia and 2-to-1 in South Korea and Singapore, though many Singaporeans do not express a preference.
McCain and Obama have each pledged to reinvigorate and strengthen partnerships with these key countries and take a more active role in Asian regional organizations. U.S. relations with Japan, Australia, South Korea, and Singapore will likely figure prominently in future Asian policy regardless of who is elected.
While citizens prefer Obama to McCain in each of these countries, only Australians and South Koreans clearly think the winner of the U.S. election makes a difference to their country. More than three in four South Koreans (79%) and Australians (76%) think who is elected matters, while Japanese and Singaporeans are divided on the issue.
South Koreans' definitive view that the election outcome makes a difference to their country may be at least partly attributable to the current wrangling concerning the pending Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, which McCain favors and Obama opposes in its current form. The candidates' perceived stances on relations with North Korea could also be a factor.
Nearly half of Singaporeans (47%) do not have an opinion as to whether the outcome of the election makes a difference to their country, and even those who do are fairly divided on whether it will matter. This finding is particularly interesting given the key trade and defense ties between the United States and Singapore and Singapore's membership in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which McCain and Obama desire a stronger partnership with.
Asian and U.S. foreign policy experts have warned that unless the next president pays "urgent attention" to Asia, it risks losing its influence in the region as Asian regionalism continues to grow. While residents in the four countries surveyed clearly prefer Obama to McCain, their attitudes about whether the U.S. presidential election results actually matter may suggest room for improvement in existing partnerships.
Results based on telephone surveys with 1,000 South Korean residents, aged 15 and older, conducted in September 2008; telephone surveys with 750 Japanese residents, aged 15 and older, conducted in June-July 2008; telephone surveys with 1,005 Australians, aged 15 and older, conducted July 2008; and face-to-face interviews with 1,003 Singaporeans, aged 15 and older, conducted in February 2008. For results based on the total sample of national adults in each survey, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points in Japan, Australia, South Korea, and Singapore. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.