Before he was elected to the White House, Barack Obama drew 200,000 ecstatic fans during a 2008 visit to Berlin. Analysts predicted he would have easily been elected France’s president if he had been a candidate there. And the day after Obama’s election triumph, practically every U.K. newspaper splashed his picture across their front pages.
Europe had fallen in love.
Two years later, Obama is struggling at home. With the midterms looming, the president’s approval rating is at just 47 percent and most indicators suggest that the Democrats will take a hit on Tuesday.
Many Europeans don’t get it.
“They’re very confused as to how [Americans] could vote for Obama and then two years later turn around and vote for a completely different set of policies,” Sarah Oates, professor of political communication the University of Glasgow, told msnbc.com.
When viewed from abroad, Obama’s campaign promises of “hope” and “change” left Europeans expecting a fundamental shift in American politics.
“[People here] are just dismayed,” Oates added. “There’s a real feeling of … disappointment that it didn’t signal the change they thought it would.”
Normally, congressional elections don’t resonate much abroad.
But Europe’s love affair with Obama – and interest in his plummeting fortunes – mean that midterms seem to be getting more coverage than usual in the U.K. and across the continent. In the wake of financial crisis, Europeans also wonder how the vote in America will affect the global economy.
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