WASHINGTON: If the whole world could vote for US president, Democrat Barack Obama would win by a landslide, according to polls conducted in 17 countries by Reader's Digest magazine.
Respondents voted "overwhelmingly" for Obama in every country polled except the US, where Republican John McCain was preferred by a narrow margin, the magazine said in an article posted on its website.
However, the surveys, with about 1,000 participants in each country, were conducted several months ago, from June 2 to July 7, for an article in the November issue of the magazine.
"It's Obama by a landslide - except in the country in which he's actually running for president," said magazine polling director John Fredricks.
"What is most striking is the margin of his support."
Obama was preferred by more than 90 per cent in the Netherlands, by 85pc in Germany and by similar margins on all six continents.
Polling was conducted in Australia, Brazil, Britain, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Mexico, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Spain, South Africa, Taiwan, and the US.
An interactive reader survey by The Economist delivered another resounding victory for Obama.
The Economist has created a "Global Electoral College" in which readers in all 195 countries can cast votes on its website.
Mirroring the US system, each country is allocated a number of votes in proportion to its population.
In the US electoral college, a candidate needs to win 270 of a total 538 votes to win the White House. US voters cast ballots to decide who wins their state's electoral college votes, rather than voting for president directly.
"With over 6.5 billion people (worldwide) enfranchised, the result is a much larger electoral college of 9,875 votes," the Economist said. Voting at www.economist.com/vote2008 will conclude on November 1 at midnight London time.
So far, Obama had tallied 8,455 global votes and McCain 16 - from Andorra, Georgia and Macedonia.
Meanwhile, in the US, Obama's lead has stretched to five points from three over McCain in midwestern Wisconsin, and to eight points from six in northeastern New Hampshire, according to a new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey.
A Washington Post-ABC poll of Ohio voters also gave Obama a six-point edge in Ohio.
On the other hand, McCain got into a high-stakes debate yesterday with Obama - the second before the November 4 election - that offers one of his last best chances to halt the Democrat's recent surge in the increasingly vitriolic race.
He dug in his heels with repeated questions about Obama's track record and a refrain by his running mate Sarah Palin that Obama was "palling around with terrorists".
"What has this man ever actually accomplished in government?" McCain asked supporters.
Obama, meanwhile, has learned the lessons of Michael Dukakis and John Kerry. Those Democrats lost presidential elections after hesitating to counter hard-hitting and factually dubious attacks on their character and judgment. "We don't throw the first punch, but we'll throw the last," Obama said.