Who US allies — and others — are rooting for as election nears

A man walks past a TV broadcast of the first presidential debate between U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, in Seoul, South Korea, September 27, 2016.
Kim Hong-Ji | Reuters

As the U.S. election season enters its final days, Americans are stressed out about who will win, but they're not the only ones closely watching the presidential contest.

U.S. allies — and otherwise — are monitoring the election with apprehension, as the winner will have significant influence over the global agenda. But just as Americans are divided on their preference, so too are key nations around the world.

Here's a brief collection of how other countries are assessing Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump.


A new investigation from Newsweek claims to reveal why President Vladimir Putin's Russia is "backing" Trump, saying that "the Kremlin's campaign is motivated not so much to support Trump as it is to hurt the Democratic nominee." That campaign, intelligence officials have said, includes the repeated cyberattacks against Democrats, but it also includes wall-to-wall promotion of anti-Clinton stories on Russian propaganda outlets RT and Sputnik.

Several top former officials have suggested that Russia likes Trump because he serves as a "useful idiot" for Moscow when he allegedly undermines U.S. alliances with isolationist and transactional foreign policy comments.

According to Newsweek, meanwhile, Putin was "infuriated" by Clinton's tough talk on the fairness of Russia's 2011 parliamentary elections. Additionally, according to the report, Putin "was also encouraged by the relentlessly positive comments about him by Trump, even after the Republican nominee began receiving criticism within his own party for sounding too supportive of the Kremlin."

For his part, Trump used to insist that he "got to know [Putin] very well" when both appeared (separately) on the CBS program "60 Minutes." But when pressed by Clinton on the relationship during the third presidential debate, Trump said, "I don't know Putin. He said nice things about me. If we got along well, that would be good."

Clinton, meanwhile, has repeatedly painted Moscow as a malevolent international actor, not only for its actions in Ukraine and the Middle East, but also for its alleged involvement in her own campaign.


As Europe's third-largest economy, and a historical American ally, France occupies an important place in the American view of the world. But just like in the U.S., France has seen a war of words between a center-left presidency and an increasingly vocal right-populist movement.

As might be expected, French President Francois Hollande endorsed Clinton over the summer, saying in a newspaper article in Les Echos newspaper that "the best thing the Democrats can do is to elect Hillary Clinton." As for Trump, Hollande reportedly said the Republican nominee's "excesses" gives observers a "retching feeling."

But Marine Le Pen, who leads France's far-right National Front party, has said she would cast her vote for Trump if she lived in the United States. The National Front's anti-migrant sentiments and skepticism of globalist outlooks share considerable similarities with Trump's platform.

Still, a recent poll from YouGov showed that only 9 percent of the French would cast their vote for Trump if they lived in the U.S. Clinton, meanwhile, saw hypothetical support from 62 percent of French people.


According to that YouGov poll, Europe's largest economy is an even bigger supporter of Clinton: 69 percent said they would hypothetically vote for Clinton, while only 8 percent tapped Trump.

Perhaps more strikingly, a whopping 65 percent of Germans said they would be "afraid" if Trump won the election.

Those poll results mirror CNBC's reporting in the country, where nearly everyone interviewed either expressed support for Clinton, distaste for Trump or apathy on the subject. Business leaders in the country said they were concerned about the GOP nominee's rhetoric on trade, which has emphasized renegotiating deals to be tougher on other countries. But even leaders of Germany's strong movement against a free trade agreement backed by President Barack Obama said they opposed Trump: Although their goals aligned on trade, these campaigners said, Trump's reasoning came from a zero-sum understanding of global interaction, while theirs was more about promoting environmentalism and democratic values.

For his part, Trump has been critical of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, saying incorrectly that crime had skyrocketed under Germany's liberal refugee policies. In fact, one of his lines of attack against Clinton has been likening her to the German leader.

But even Merkel's opponents say they are not Trump supporters. As one German politician told CNBC, most in the country don't think Trump would help the U.S., and those who do think Trump's prescriptions will "make America great again" are largely anti-Americans who don't want the U.S. to succeed in the first place.

United Kingdom

The United Kingdom is still reeling from its June Brexit vote to leave the European Union. That campaign has been likened to the U.S. election — including by Trump himself — as many prognosticators said the establishment-backed "stay" side would defeat the populist "leave" proponents.

Although that unanticipated result does not mean Trump is a favorite in the U.K., it perhaps explains Clinton's relative unpopularity: In the October YouGov poll of several European nations, the U.K. boasted the lowest percentage who said they'd vote for Clinton — a meager 59 percent to Trump's 8 percent.

Scott Lucas, a professor of American studies at the University of Birmingham, told CNBC this summer that a lack of clarity on what exactly Trump would do if elected "unsettles" many people in Britain.

"I think in general most people in the U.K. would feel much more comfortable with Hillary, because she's a known factor. Even if you disagree with her, you know pretty much where she's going to come from," he said.


The U.S. neighbor to the south has been a favorite punching bag for Trump. In fact, Mexico was one of the very first targets for the political pugilist.

"When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best," Trump said when he announced his candidacy in 2015. "They're sending people that have lots of problems, and they're bringing those problems with us. They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people."

The GOP nominee attempted to patch up the relationship when he met with President Enrique Pena Nieto, but that confab appeared unsuccessful after Trump and the Mexican leader publicly disagreed about what had been said.

"Regardless of where in Mexico, the people here don't want Donald Trump to win," Eloisa Hernandez, a 29-year-old restaurant owner from Queretaro, Mexico, told CNBC this summer.

"He's a person who is not qualified to hold the presidency of the most powerful country in the world, as is the U.S," she told CNBC via telephone. "The racist comments he made when he began his campaign were obviously not received well by us."


A less obvious supporter of Trump or Clinton is Israel. The Jerusalem Post reported earlier this week that U.S. absentee-voters in Israel were siding for Trump 49 percent to Clinton's 44 percent, according to exit polling.

A survey of Israelis, however, found that 42 percent preferred Clinton and 26.5 percent favored Trump. That same poll found, however, that 63 percent thought that Clinton would be tougher on the Israeli government about renewing peace negotiations with the Palestinians.

Both candidates have attempted to paint themselves as unshakable stewards of the U.S.-Israeli alliance.

Trump has said he would ensure that Palestinians enter any negotiations "knowing that the bond between the United States and Israel is absolutely, totally unbreakable." Clinton, for her part, has said "we will never allow Israel's adversaries to think a wedge can be driven between us."


Beijing has a policy of not picking favorites in foreign elections, but that doesn't meanChina has held its tongue on the candidates.

Xie Zhenhua, China's special representative for climate change, made headlines on Tuesday when he rebuked Trump for suggesting that he would pull out of a global pact to fight climate change.

"If they resist this trend, I don't think they'll win the support of their people, and their country's economic and social progress will also be affected," Xie said in response to a question about Trump.

"I believe a wise political leader should take policy stances that conform with global trends," he added.

Despite that recent rhetorical wrist-slapping, Beijing's propaganda mouthpieces have been equally critical of Trump and Clinton.

On Trump, Chinese outlets have described him as an "irrational type," whose mouth is too small and who employs a "childish style of speaking," He's seen as a candidate who would "bring changes to the Sino-U.S. relationship," but who embodies"pragmatism" despite his "dubious record of success as a businessman."

Clinton, experts say, is also viewed negatively by Beijing. The Chinese government sees the former secretary of state as a more hawkish version of Obama, and she has previously rankled Beijing on human rights — extending all the way from a 1995 speech that stirred controversy in Beijing, up to a 2015 tweet about the country's persecution of feminists.

— Reuters and CNBC's Jacob Pramuk and Fred Imbert contributed to this report.