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Mexicans are watching the U.S. presidential race, with polls showing a split along socio-economic lines that mirrors that of Mexican society itself. But the vast majority of Mexicans surveyed recently say they support the Democratic Party, with many saying initially preferred Hillary Clinton as the nominee. But the same polls say Barack Obama now enjoys tremendous support in Mexico. The World’s Lorne Matalon reports from Mexico City.
Listen to the audio:[audio:npr/1021085.mp3]
Originally: Mexican View of U-S Elections
Matalon: There are two banners hanging in one poor neighborhood here. One says ‘Viva Obama,’…the other’s a picture of John McCain wishing him well with the words, ‘Vaya Con Dios’…’Go with God.’ The first reflects many Mexicans’identification with Obama, whom they see as a man who like Mexico must overcome entrenched obstacles…the second a feeling that McCain best represents Mexico’s conservative views on social issues such as abortion.
Matalon: Carlos Alazraki is highly-connected in Mexican political circles. He’s an image-maker, a creator of political advertising for President Calderon’s PAN Party, and before that for the party that ruled Mexico for 70 years before 2000, the Partido Revolutionario Institutional, or PRI. Alazaraki says Mexicans have fallen for Obama.
Alazaraki: “The first time that Mexicans fell in love with an American president was with JFK because he was the first Catholic president. Mexico is very Catholic. And I think JFK left the seed of Mexicans loving Democrats because the Democrats are little bit more socialist than Republicans that are more capitalistic. So there’s this good feeling of identity between Mexicans and Democrats, so they also feel identity with Obama. And if you add the charisma of Obama, Mexicans prefer Obama.”
Matalon: Daniel Lund runs one of Mexico’s top tier polling firms. He surveyed Mexicans and found Mexicans favour Obama over McCain by a 3-1 margin.
Lund: “The old Reaganesque notion that gov’t IS the problem doesn’t fly here at all. People complain, people criticize gov’t services up and down with enormous passion and eloquence. But when they think about what they want, it has to do with the gov’t being responsive and aprropriate That’s the language of Obama, not the language of McCain.
Matalon: But in the newsroom at Mexico’s center-right La Reforma newspaper, Chief Foreign Editor Mireya Olivas says Obama’s support doesn’t seem that high to her.
Olivas: “We Mexicans are not homogeneous at all. We’re very complex and we also have these big chunks of society who maybe feel more comfortable with Republicans because they are conservatives, and there are a lot of Mexicans who are very conservative. They are pro-life, and they like the ideas of Republicans like Sarah Palin being a pro-life warrior. They like that.”
Matalon: And there are voters here in Mexico; The country has the largest American expatriate population of any country in the world; 764,000 U.S. citizens and another half-million dual citizens live here. Both Democrats and Republicans have mounted campaigns to win their support.