Princeton student Melekot Abate 11 wont be voting in todays presidential election, and the law bars him from donating to candidates of any party. As an international student in a country in the midst of a heated national campaign, Abate has still found a way to get involved.
I spent all of fall break working for the Obama campaign in Philadelphia, Abate, an Ethiopian national, said in an e-mail. Since I am not able to make donations of money and a vote, I felt that this was the only way in which I could get involved in the campaign in a meaningful way.
Abate and all of the other international students interviewed for this article showed a preference for Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill.
This mirrors the results from The Economist, which polled 52,000 people around the world, giving them hypothetical votes in the American presidential election. Obama received 44,311 votes from those polled while Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., only received 7,781, giving Obama a Global Electoral College victory of 9,115 to McCains 203 in The Economists poll. Only four countriesIraq, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Algeria and Cubasupport McCain. Chinawhich has 1,900 electoral votes in The Economists Global Electoral College, the most of any country polledsupported Obama with 83 percent respondents from the country voting for the Illinois senator.
The poll, however, was conducted on the magazines website only, and the results may be influenced by The Economists traditional readership. The poll reported that 81 percent of respondents from the United States supported Obama. Realclearpolitics.com, however, an election and polling website, reported Obamas support as 52 percent in its average of 14 of Mondays national polls.
Abate said that not being an American in no way detracts from the intense passion I feel for what will be the defining presidential election of our generation.
He added that he looks at the election both from the perspective of an international student and as someone who lives in the United States.
Malaysian national Ming Loong Chng 12 said that he sees the election as a way for America to improve its standing in the world.
It is an opportunity for Americans to elect a president to change the image created by President Bush over the past eight years, he explained.
Obama is a better candidate to improve Americas image abroad, Chng said. He is more willing to talk to leaders of rogue nations, whereas McCain refuses to do so.
While American foreign policy would naturally be important to international students, for some, their support of Obama rests with his domestic policies.
I am most invested in social issues such as education, healthcare, immigration and LGBT rights, Ugandan Sandra Mukasa 12 said in an e-mail. It would be great if the United States elected a president who devoted a significant amount of time and energy to those issues because I believe that they affect the majority of the United States population.
Its very clear to me that eyes all around the world are on this election, she added.
Despite her opinion that the United States presidential election is ridiculously over-hyped, Emma Bedard 11, a Canadian citizen, said in an e-mail that Obamas race is important to her.
I do believe that it is about time for one of the most powerful countries in the world to have a black president! she said.
Corinne Stephenson contributed reporting.