Mexicanos prefieren a Hillary
In the book, Wisdom of Crowds, author James Suroweicki argues that "under the right circumstances, groups are remarkably intelligent, and are often smarter than the smartest people in them". If so then what is it that Mexicans see among US Presidential candidates that would make them prefer Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama to John McCain by a large margin? An article taken from the Mexican paper El Universal reports that a large majority of Mexicans believe that either of the two Democratic candidates will be more more willing than John McCain to push "immigration reform", a issue on which the Senator from Arizona was criticized by members of his own party.
The key insight of the Mexican poll respondents may be that in choosing a Presidential candidate, US voters are not only selecting an individual but a political party. Therfore while McCain is seen by many Republican voters to be "soft" on Mexican immigration, a President McCain would be held back far more effectively by his own party than would Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. This much is straighforward.
The more interesting question is why Hillary Clinton should be preferred to Barack Obama. There was no question in the poll taken to answer this question explicitly, but El Universal believes the Mexican preference for Clinton stems from a belief that Obama will favor African-Americans over Latinos in minority issues. The fear that Obama would play favorites trumped a belief that Clinton was more likely to renegotiate NAFTA than Obama, while John McCain was unlikely to renegotiate it at all. In other words, immigration policy and minority preferences in the US were more important than trade in shaping Mexican attitudes towards US Presidential candidates.
Of course one shouldn't draw too many inferences from a poll taken in Mexico. But since it is widely argued that one of the tasks of the next President to "fix" America's image in the world, it's probably pertinent to ask what that image actually is, not just in France or Germany, but south of the border, down Mexico way.
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