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Global perceptions of U.S. improve

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The survey of 24 countries shows that in 10 of them – including China, Russia, India, Indonesia, South Korea, and Tanzania – US favorability ratings rose since 2007. In Japan, Mexico, and Nigeria, favorability declined.

Speaking with reporters at a Monitor breakfast Thursday, Mr. Kohut said the latest survey found a high level of interest in the US presidential elections, with a higher percentage of Japanese than Americans (83 to 80 percent) saying they were paying close attention to the US campaign. But interest was also relatively high in countries like Turkey and Egypt.

Kohut attributes part of the interest to the candidacy of Democratic Sen. Barack Obama In nearly every country surveyed – excepting Jordan, by a slight margin – the public expressed more confidence in Senator Obama than in his Republican rival, Sen. John McCain, "to do the right thing regarding world affairs."

The survey finds significant numbers of people, particularly in Western Europe, agreeing that US foreign policy will change for the better next year with a new president. Kohut assumes that much of the optimism derives from the fact that, no matter who wins, Bush will be out of the White House.

"He's a real red flag for a lot of people," he says. Other factors include the fact that both candidates talk of change, and Obama in particular sounds — and looks – different from what foreigners associate with recent US leadership.

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