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"The Next US President, Obama' s"Influence on the Rest of the World
- What Burden-sharing will This Cool Realist Demand? -

Takashi Yoshino
Professor, Faculty of Political Science and Economics, Waseda University

At the presidential election on November 4, Democratic presidential candidate, Barack Obama won the White House. The focus of this election was who could better handle the current economic recession and monetary crisis. According to the exit polls of ABC Television, 50% responded that they were very worried about the economy, of which 66% mentioned that they voted for Obama. Obama won 364 electoral votes in 28 states, which is well over the majority votes of 270.

Obama regained the votes in 7 states including Florida and Ohio out of 29 states where the Republican Party had won in the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections. Obama, however, won McCain by only 6.4% of the general votes. At the presidential election since World War II, Eisenhower won his opponent by 10.5% of the vote when he run the race for the first time. In this regard, Obama ranks the forth. Although this election of the first African-American president was an historic moment, his victory was not a landslide one.

Grand Victory

The 2008 presidential election was considered to be potentially favorable for democratic presidential candidates due to voter discontent to Bush' s political and economic policies. In addition, Obama took best advantage of the Internet, won more fund and exposed himself in more TV commercials than his opponent. Monetary crisis since the middle of September also helped him. Despite all these, Obama' s victory was not a landslide. One of the reasons was the Bradley effect of "white voters prefer white candidates."

According to several polls immediately before the election date, Obama was leading McCain by 6 - 8%, with 52-54% of the respondents. On the other hand, the exit polls of ABC Television showed that among the white male respondents 57% voted for McCain, while 41% for Obama, 16 points more for McCain. Also, among the while female respondents 53% voted for McCain and 46% for Obama, 7 points more for McCain.

Considering the above, Obama' s victory by 6.4% over McCain is a grand victory despite racial bias of white voters.

Increasing Trend of Protectionism

What will be the Obama administration' s influence on the rest of the world?

First of all, the greatest challenge of the Obama administration is to overcome the current economic recession and monetary crisis in the United States. At the concurrent election of congress members the Democratic Party maintained the majority of the seats both in the upper and lower houses. Therefore, the Democratic united government will allow Democratic congress members to submit various bills related to health care, environment and energy at an early stage, in addition to the economic assistance and public project policies by President Obama. The Democratic Party is more protectionist party, and protectionism trend is expected to increase. Even President Obama will not be able to easily control the trend.

At present, the largest US import partner is China. Since many Japanese enterprises including automobiles are locally manufacturing now, the past exclusion movement of Japanese products will not occur again. The next president Obama, however, stated that he would extend support to depressed American automobile companies. When he actually implements his statements, Japanese automobile manufacturers will no doubt be expected to face a hard time.

Asking Japan for Increased Support for the U.S. Forces

Next, the Obama administration is likely to ask each country for more burden-sharing. Budget deficit of the U.S. 2008 fiscal year (October 2007 - September 2008) reached the record high of 455 billion USD. On November 13, US Treasury announced that the fiscal spending recorded deficit of 237 billion USD as of October. It is assumed that total US debt exceeded its GDP by 3.5%. In order to overcome the current economic and monetary crisis, huge amount of fiscal spending is further required. Moreover, the Obama administration advocates early withdrawal of US troops from Iraq and the increase of US troops to Afghanistan, focusing on the wars at Afghanistan. Significant reduction of military spending is unlikely. As a result, US will ask relevant parties to increase burden-sharing.

For example, US will ask not only Japan' s refueling mission in the Indian Ocean but also more active participation such as dispatching Japan' s Self Defense Force to Afghanistan. If Japan insists on retaining the Japan-US alliance, US will possibly ask for more burden-sharing for maintaining and relocating US military bases in Japan.

Tough Negotiator

Finally, in case when US is too busy with overcoming its domestic economic recession and monetary crisis to actively participate in overcoming the world monetary crisis and a new rule-making for a while, the world monetary crisis will likely be protracted.

Even though at an early stage the United States participates in overcoming the world monetary crisis and a new rule-making, there will be another issue. Although Obama criticized the Bush administration and expressed cooperation with the UN and European developed counties during his presidential race, he is basically a cool realist who believes "potential strength of America". The Obama administration will be a tough negotiator for both Middle East countries and European developed countries.

Takashi Yoshino
Professor, Faculty of Political Science and Economics, Waseda University

1. Profile
1954: Born in Nagano Prefecture
1978: Graduated from the School of Political Science and Economics, Waseda University
July 1984 - June 1986: Studied at the Graduate School of Politics, Wisconsin University at Madison
1988: Completed his Doctoral Program at the Graduate School of Political Science, Waseda University
March 1991 - March 1993: Visiting researcher at the SAIS, John Hopkins University, majoring Anglo-American political science, political parties and elections and American politics
1995: Professor, Faculty of Political Science and Economics, Waseda University through assistant and assistant professor positions

2. Major Publications
1995: "The Society and Politics of the United States of America" (Co-authored) Yuhikaku
2001: "Contemporary Political Parties and Elections" (Co-authored) Yuhikaku
2001: "Who should be a Politician?" (Co-authored) The Publishing Department, Waseda University
2005: "Dictionary of Contemporary Japanese Government and Politics - 2005" (Co-authored) Brain Co., Ltd