Arab News/YouGov poll: Arabs prefer Clinton, but with Trump on key issues

Updated 04 November 2016

Arab News/YouGov poll: Arabs prefer Clinton, but with Trump on key issues

JEDDAH: Most Arab citizens believe Hillary Clinton to be the best choice for US president — but are aligned with Donald Trump on some of his most controversial stances, a wide-ranging Arab News/YouGov poll has found.
 
The survey of 3,017 people in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) found that, were they given the chance to vote, 47 percent would snub both candidates — suggesting widespread dissatisfaction with the election frontrunners.
 
Clinton emerged as the most popular of the two candidates, with 44 percent of Arab respondents saying they would vote for her, and 78 percent saying she would be the best for the Arab world.
 
The Democratic candidate’s stance on climate change, immigrants in the United States, and US Israel policy found special support among citizens of the Middle East and North Africa, the poll found.
 
Trump won just 9 percent of respondents’ support in the MENA-wide public opinion survey. But the candidate’s often divisive stance on border controls and abortion proved popular in the region — suggesting the lack of support for Trump has more to do with personality than politics.
 
Further evidence of this is that people in the region were split equally over the Republican and Democratic candidates’ viewpoints on the issues of the war in Syria and Iran nuclear deal.
 
Despite almost half the people questioned saying that they would not vote even if given the chance, the Arab News/YouGov US election MENA poll found that there was widespread interest in the Nov. 8 showdown, with 78 percent saying the result would have a direct impact on the region.
“There is little enthusiasm for either candidate but 78 percent believe Clinton would be better for the Arab world if elected as president versus 22 percent for Trump,” said Stephan Shakespeare, the chief executive of YouGov.
“But on abortion and security, the majority of Arab opinion backs Trump over Clinton. It is not unreasonable to assume that this support would extend to other important social issues.”
 
Trump’s controversial statements, including a proposed ban on Muslims entering the United States, appear to have greatly impacted public opinion in the Arab world.
 
Almost three quarters of respondents to the poll said they were “dissatisfied” or “upset” with Trump, with just 12 percent saying they are “enthusiastic” or “satisfied”.
 
The view toward Clinton was more favorable, with 49 percent saying they are “enthusiastic” or “satisfied” with the candidate, compared to the 29 percent who said they are “dissatisfied” or “upset”.
 
But when questioned about Trump’s key policies — although without the candidate being named — Arab audiences broadly agreed with his stance on abortion and security and border controls.
 
Nine in 10 said that they did not mind extra border restrictions or measures if they felt their country’s security was under threat from a certain nationality or group. This marks an irony given the uproar over Trump’s remarks regarding Muslims entering the US, some commentators said.
Arab opinion on the war in Syria and ISIS was however more divided.
 
The Arab News/YouGov poll found that 46 percent of respondents believe the US should send troops to fight ISIS in the region and collaborate closely with Russia on solving the Syrian crisis. But 54 percent said the US should be more involved in the humanitarian efforts for Syrian refugees, arm moderate groups and increase air strikes on ISIS and Syria — but not send in ground troops.
 
The respondents were similarly split over whether the nuclear agreement between Iran and world powers including the US should be annulled.
Writing in today’s Op-Ed pages, Arab News Editor in Chief Faisal J. Abbas commented on the poll saying that it reveals  “interesting findings regarding the hearts and minds of Arabs.” 
 
Abbas argues that when it comes to who the next US president is going to be, there is a growing feeling in the Arab world that actions speak louder than words, regardless of who wins the next election.
 
Experts based in the United States, commenting on the Arab News/YouGov poll, agreed that there are mixed feelings toward the two US presidential frontrunners within the Arab world.
 
Andrew Bowen, Global Fellow for the Middle East Program at the Wilson Center in the United States, said that he had heard positive sentiment about both candidates. But business people and policymakers in the Gulf and Egypt, he said, are saying particularly positive things about Trump.
“They view Trump as a change, while they see Hillary as the status quo. They see Trump as a businessman who can shake things up, recast things.”
 
But Lee Smith, Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute in the United States, said that he could see how Trump attracted just 9 percent support in the poll given the candidate’s previous outspoken remarks.
 
“(In light of) Trump’s comments regarding Muslim immigration … and how many Muslims around the region look up to the United States and admire it, I can certainly see how those comments could come, at the very least, as a surprise,” he said.

The Arab News/YouGov poll attracted headlines across the world. Dozens of news outlets – including the AFP newswire, the London-based Daily Mail, 9 News of Australia and US-headquartered Yahoo – published the findings of the exclusive poll.
 
Key US-based scholars of US politics and the Middle East also reacted to the study. Randa Slim – a Director of the Track two Dialogue initiative at the Middle East Institute in Washington, DC – said she believes that support for Hillary Clinton “is more driven by the anti-Trump attitude than by any thorough knowledge of where the former secretary of state stands on the issues”.
 
Simon Anholt – a UK-based policy adviser who is behind The Global Vote, a website that allows people worldwide to indicate how they would vote in selected global elections – said he welcomed such public opinion polls as they illustrate how the repercussions of the US elections will be felt globally.
 
“These kinds of polls really help, because they encourage people to think outwards, and to think more globally, and to think about the international consequences of things,” said Anholt.
 
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UK’s Sunak to unveil more job support as COVID cases mount

Updated 3 min ago

UK’s Sunak to unveil more job support as COVID cases mount

LONDON: British finance minister Rishi Sunak looks set to unveil more support for businesses and workers hit by rising COVID cases later on Thursday, when he updates parliament on the outlook for the economy.
Sunak is due to address parliament around 1030 GMT, in a hastily arranged briefing at a time when there has been growing political anger that economic support is falling away while coronavirus restrictions tighten for many firms.
“Hopefully this afternoon we’ll see the chancellor tack a little bit, trim the sails, to make sure we’re getting the right balance to support the economy properly,” Malthouse told the BBC, adding that lawmakers had received lots of complaints.
Britain has suffered Europe’s highest death toll from coronavirus, as well as the severest economic hit of any major advanced economy. Cases are now climbing again rapidly, with a record 26,688 new cases reported on Wednesday.
However, the country’s main furlough scheme — which supported 9 million jobs at its peak, and is still heavily used in the hospitality industry — will end on Oct. 31.
Firms that are required to close entirely will be able to furlough staff on two thirds of their pay — less than the previous 80 percent — but others get much less support.
Unlike short-time working schemes elsewhere in Europe, from next month businesses which bring staff back part-time must pay staff for some of the hours they do not work, in order for workers to be eligible for a government top-up payment.
“Making the Job Support Scheme work better for firms by reducing employer contributions ... would be a significant — and very welcome — change,” the Resolution Foundation think tank said.
Many lockdown measures in Britain do not require businesses to close outright but significantly restrict trade, for example by barring pubs and restaurants from serving groups of people who do not live in the same household, or opening after 10 p.m.
Thursday’s statement was announced late on Wednesday, after the government canceled a planned review of public spending over the next three years, and looks set to be the third time in under a month that Sunak has adjusted job support plans.
Sunak said on Wednesday that supporting jobs remained the government’s priority, but he would need to take steps to ensure the public finances remained sustainable once economic recovery was under way.
British government borrowing is on course to reach its highest since World War Two this financial year.