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Europeans Favor Obama Over ‘Unknown’ Romney, Survey Indicates

Europeans expressed barely diminished enthusiasm for President Barack Obama four years after he burst onto the international scene, yearning for his re-election over the “unknown” Mitt Romney, a poll showed.

Some 75 percent of Europeans would vote for the Democratic incumbent, only 8 percent for the Republican challenger, according to a poll released today in Brussels by the German Marshall Fund of the United States and the Italian foundation Compagnia di San Paolo.

While Obama’s European approval rating slipped to 71 percent from a post-inauguration 83 percent, he continued to exceed the 20 percent that George W. Bush left office with. Europeans had more enthusiasm for Obama as a leadership icon than for his policies, with 48 percent endorsing his approach to the Afghan war and 49 percent his response to Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

“What this survey shows is that, regardless of who is elected in November, the trans-Atlantic challenges are real,” GMF President Craig Kennedy said in an e-mailed statement.

The poll was conducted in June, before Romney went on an international tour that drew far smaller crowds than Obama’s 2008 campaign swing across Europe culminating with a speech to a throng of 200,000 in Berlin.

Romney had a bumpier ride on a trip to Europe and Israel in July, drawing fire in the U.K. for questioning London’s readiness for the Olympics and being forced to defuse an aide’s assertion that he would back a unilateral Israeli strike on Iran.

Same Stage

Romney was an unknown quantity to 38 percent of Europeans, the poll showed. That figure contrasted with 14 percent who didn’t know Obama and 24 percent who didn’t know John McCain, the Republican candidate, at the same stage of the 2008 campaign.

Other highlights from the survey:

Iranian nuclear dispute: 28 percent in Europe and 32 percent in the U.S. called for sanctions on Iran. In case economic pressure fails, 18 percent in the U.S. would take military action, compared to 7 percent in Europe.

Non-intervention in Syria: 59 percent in Europe, 57 percent in Turkey and 55 percent in the U.S. want to stay out of the conflict in Syria.

Afghan exit: 68 percent in the U.S. and 75 percent in Europe favor a partial or full pullout from Afghanistan, 11 years after the U.S.-led invasion.

The annual survey of 15,500 people was conducted in 12 European Union countries, Turkey, Russia and the U.S. between June 2-27. The margin of error is 3 percentage points.

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