If the whole world could vote in the US elections.... we'd probably need more lawyers.
Seriously, though, I don't think there's ever been a presidential election in which the opinion of the rest of the world was as important as this one. I have very mixed feelings about that, to be honest, but if the president of the US is 'the leader of the free world' (and whatever other countries we deem allies of convenience) then we have to at least note what our words and actions mean to the rest of the world.
With that in mind, I offer two sources on world opinion, one serious and one worthless internet poll. For decent reporting on world affairs, the World Press Review Online remains the gold standard: not quick or comprehensive, but selective and effective reporting. They have two articles of relevance:"Poll shows 8 out of 10 countries back Kerry" and the"US Elections 2004" page which samples opinion from a variety of sources.
For a wildly imprecise snapshot, there's nothing like an on-line poll. An Australian friend forwarded me a link to http://www.betavote.com/, where anyone can identify their nationality and cast a vote. George Bush is leading, as of this moment, in Lichtenstein and Niger, and within striking distance (their idea of"statistical tie" is anything within ten percentage points, apparently) in Afghanistan, Barbados, the Cocos Islands, Comoros, Congo, the Cook Islands, Iraq, Kiribati, North Korea (DPRK), Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, the Maldives, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Mayotte, Montserratt, Myanmar (Burma), Niue, Norfolk Island, Pitcairn, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, Turkmenistan, Turks and Caicos Islands, and the Western Sahara (Only Afghanistan exceeds 400 votes cast at this point). Bush is showing strongly in Africa and on small islands, in other words. Yes, I know it's nearly worthless data -- if it was worth anything as a real poll, it would show Bush leading in Israel and Russia and a tie in the US -- but it's data nonetheless.
Our standing in the world really is at stake. First, if we can't clean up the election process, we're going to have to put up with a lot of pointed comments about our hypocritical attempts to spread a dying system of representative democracy. Second, if we reelect George Bush, we're clearly going to have to make our case to the world all over again, and other nations will increasingly take the lead in regional and perhaps even world affairs. Don't be fooled: Kerry will give greater attention to the opinions of our allies and the world in general as a way of making our agenda theirs, but Bush will be ignored, except where he can bribe and bully, and our ability to do those things is slipping away by the hour.
Update: For what it's worth, Tom Friedman agrees with me:
I have been struck by how many foreign dignitaries have begged me lately for news that Bush will lose. This Bush team has made itself so radioactive it glows in the dark. When the world liked Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan, America had more power in the world. When much of the world detests George Bush, America has less power. People do not want to be seen standing next to us. It doesn't mean we should run our foreign policy as a popularity contest, but it does mean that leading is not just about making decisions - it's also the ability to communicate, follow through and persuade
If the Bush team wins re-election, unless it undergoes a policy lobotomy and changes course and tone, the breach between America and the rest of the world will only get larger. But all Mr. Bush and Dick Cheney have told us during this campaign is that they have made no mistakes and see no reason to change.