Global Education

US-Russian tensions mix opinions

By Denebola
Published: October 2008

By Mika Braginsky

A May 2008 poll conducted by YouGov Global, a research and consulting organization, surveyed the G8 countries to find out people’s opinions on the upcoming American presidential election.

In Russia, 45 percent of people have no opinion or would vote for neither Obama nor McCain. The number of people in Russia who are apathetic is large. Among Russians, Obama leads McCain by 7 points, 31 percent to 24 percent. McCain has substantially more support in Russia than in the rest of the G8′€only 8 percent of Frenchmen and 6 percent of Germans would vote for him.

The same poll asked if people consider the US a “force for good or a “force for evil. The majority of Russians, 56 percent, said the US is a “force for evil’€more than any other G8 country. Just 16 percent held that the US is a “force for good.

Russian antagonism toward the US does not come as a surprise. Vladimir Putin, the much-admired former president and current prime minister, has repeatedly called the US an imperialist aggressor and once compared it to the Third Reich.

State television plays on Russians’ habitual paranoia by claiming that the US is plotting to weaken Russia and steal its energy resources.

State television has also widely criticized McCain for his hostile opinions towards Russia – for example, McCain advocates the removal of Russia from the G8 and called its recent presidential election “rigged. By comparison, Obama’s criticism of Russia has been much milder.

Part of the reason that Obama’s lead is so slight has to do with prejudice – Russia is a country where old-fashioned racism is still largely acceptable.

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