... according to the campaign ads running on TV in this year's U.S. presidential race.
Mitt Romney may have talked about the Middle East yesterday in what was billed (and panned) as a major foreign policy address, but ad spending by both candidates' camps shows that global affairs are still low on the list of key campaign topics.
Fewer than 10% of ads aired in the U.S. presidential race to date have made reference to international issues--and those that do look abroad reveal a worldview that's largely limited to Chinese trade, Iraq, Afghanistan and Israel, according to a tally by Elizabeth Wilner, a vice-president at the media research group Kantar Media. Wilner argues that disparity is in fact even greater when discounting China-trade-related ads, which she says are fundamentally about U.S. economic policy. Without them, only 3.3% of spots have referred to global issues.
Clearly, both campaigns' inward focus reflects polls that consistently show American voters don't care much about the rest of the world--particularly not beyond the country's military engagements. But, it's a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy, too: Even in the wake of the global financial crisis and lingering euro zone woes, most polls don't ask respondents specific questions about the global economy. And without that data, campaigns and candidates have little political reason to address it.
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"People pay more attention to global economic issues when they feel they can afford it, when things are okay at home," Wilner says. "The economic situation around the world could have some pretty devastating effects, just like war could, but people don't see the connections."