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Belarusians, Ukrainians Aside, RFE/RL Readers Overwhelmingly 'Reelect' Obama

According to unscientific online polls, RFE/RL readers overwhelmingly expressed support for Barack Obama. Only Belarusians and Ukrainians indicated preference for his Republican challenger Mitt Romney.
Online polls about the November 6 U.S. presidential election suggest that RFE/RL's audience would have reelected Barack Obama by an even bigger margin than in the United States.

Unscientific opinion polls on various RFE/RL websites indicate the U.S. president enjoys overwhelming support among readers, from Iran to Central Asia and the Caucasus countries.

Two notable exceptions were Belarus and Ukraine, where RFE/RL's audience voiced preference for Obama's Republican challenger Mitt Romney.

'Not A Priority'

Yuri Drakakhrust, an analyst with RFE/RL's Belarus Service, says the main factor behind the results is a feeling among many Eastern Europeans that Obama neglected their region during his first presidential term.

"They understand that Eastern Europe -- Russia excluded -- is not a priority in the Obama administration's foreign policy," he says. "Concerning Belarus, it was under the administration of [former U.S. President George W.] Bush that the Belarus Democracy Act was adopted and economic sanctions against the regime of [Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka] were introduced. The Obama administration continued this policy largely by inertia."

In Belarus, 54.2 percent of participants in RFE/RL's online poll said they would vote for Romney, against 32.3 percent for Obama. More than 14 percent were undecided.

Drakakhrust, however, notes that RFE/RL readers and listeners tend to be more tuned into international politics than the general public. Street vox pops conducted by RFE/RL in Belarus indicated significantly stronger support for Obama than its online poll.

The same holds true for Ukraine, where 59.2 percent of RFE/RL readers voiced support for Romney and 40.8 percent for Obama.

Disagree With The 'Reset'

Like Belarusians, many in Ukraine are frustrated by Obama's perceived lack of interest in their country. Unlike his Republican predecessor Bush, who visited Ukraine and repeatedly backed the country's NATO ambitions, Obama failed to make a trip to Ukraine during his first term.

Analysts say many Ukrainians also disapprove of Obama's effort to "reset" relations with the Kremlin, which has strongly opposed Ukraine's push for NATO and European Union membership.

Ukraine and Belarus aside, Obama made strong showings in all other RFE/RL online polls -- often much stronger than the roughly 50 percent he has garnered so far in the U.S. popular vote.

In Iraq, as many as 80 percent of readers said they would vote for him. In Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, three out of four readers favored Obama.

In Azerbaijan, more than 72 percent of respondents gave Obama their virtual vote. Part of Obama's popularity in the Caucasus nation is seen as stemming from his vocal calls on Baku to improve its human rights record and free political prisoners.

Respondents in neighboring Georgia were more reserved in their endorsement of Obama, with 59 percent backing him.

RFE/RL readers in Iran, too, gave Obama lukewarm support; 49 percent of respondents said they would vote for him while 35 percent said they would prefer to see Romney win the White House. The remaining 16 percent were undecided.