Sydney Morning Herald

By Peter Hartcher

If Australians could vote in the United States presidential election, they would choose Barack Obama over Mitt Romney by a margin of 14 to one, a poll shows.

Indeed, Australians prefer the US President by so overwhelming a margin that it would be a bigger landslide than any in the history of the US.

An online poll of 1000 Australians by UMR Research found 72 per cent would vote for the Democrats' Mr Obama, and just 5 per cent for the Republicans' Mr Romney. The biggest share of the popular vote won by any president since the creation of the current voting system was Lyndon Johnson's 61.1 per cent in 1964.

''Australians were behind Obama early — in the 2008 campaign Australia was the third most pro-Obama country in the world, behind Kenya and Italy,'' the chief executive of the US Studies Centre at Sydney University, Geoff Garrett, said. ''It was because of the extraordinary hold-over of negativity towards George Bush and John Howard over the Iraq War.''

Australian ardour for Mr Obama remains at the same level four years on. A Lowy Institute poll in 2008 found Australians preferred Mr Obama over John McCain by 73 per cent to 16.

''Obama has been a prudent commander-in-chief, which probably matters to Australians because of our history'' of going to war with the US, said the Lowy Institute executive director, Michael Fullilove.

American voters also rate Mr Obama highly on foreign policy, but are much more concerned with his domestic policy and the anaemic US recovery, in particular. Mr Fullilove added Mr Obama is popular around the world: ''The Obama brand exports well.''

The pollster, Stephen Mills of UMR Research, said Australian support for Mr Obama was overwhelming among supporters of both major parties: ''We could not find a single Labor voter who would vote for Romney — they went 89 per cent to zero per cent.

''But even amongst Coalition voters, 64 per cent go for Obama and 10 per cent Romney.''

Asked which candidate they expected to win, 65 per cent of Australians nominated Mr Obama and 9 per cent Mr Romney.

However, this is very different from the reality of the US election contest today. The average result of eight leading polls of US voting intentions shows 46.9 per cent of Americans support Obama and 45.5 per cent Romney.