4 Years Later, China Is Still in Love With President Obama

Among netizens, at least ...

RTR3A2F6-615.jpg Keith Bedford/Reuters

There's no small irony in Chinese Web users' casting imaginary ballots for an election half a world away while their own government prepares to appoint a new generation of leaders behind closed doors. But vote they did, and the results are in: President Obama wins among the Chinese electorate by an overwhelming margin.

On average, 80 percent of Chinese respondents backed the White House incumbent across two online polls conducted by Global Times and Sina Weibo yesterday. In the Global Times survey, 81 percent of 4,500 Chinese said yes to Obama; on Weibo, it was 78 percent of 2,500 respondents. Although both polls were conducted unscientifically online, the numbers suggest strong support for the president at least in the Chinese Internet's biggest constituency: young, wealthy, educated, urban and middle-class voters.

china-08-12.jpgGlobeScan

Those numbers are consistent with polls of other countries. Of 21 states surveyed by the BBC last month, 20 showed at least a plurality of voters preferring the president over Governor Mitt Romney. Only in Pakistan was support for Romney higher than for Obama. In China in particular, Obama crushed Romney by a margin of 28 percent to 9 percent. Although in 2008 Obama had fared better at 35 percent, China's support for the Republican party is also down. Four years ago in the same poll, Chinese "voters" backed Senator John McCain at a rate of 15 percent.

An online poll released by MSN yesterday had the race in China much closer, with Romney actually beating Obama 52-48. In fact, China leaned Republican to a greater degree than any other country in MSN's survey, which claimed to sample 570,000 people. But the MSN report doesn't provide any other numbers to explain the result, which make it hard to assess its value.

We should avoid putting too much stock in online polls. But as long as we're honest about their limits, they offer some reasonable insights. At least among Chinese Web users, it's Obama by a landslide.

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Brian Fung is the technology writer at National Journal. He was previously an associate editor at The Atlantic and has written for Foreign Policy and The Washington Post.

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