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opinion

Andrew Hammond is an associate at LSE IDEAS at the London School of Economics.

After a wild two weeks of the Republican and Democratic conventions, the U.S. election campaign proper is now on. The convention season will be remembered, most notably, for the selection of former secretary of state Hillary Clinton as the first woman to become a presidential candidate for a major political party. This is a massive moment in U.S. history, particularly coming so soon after the 2008 election of the country's first black president, Barack Obama.

While Ms. Clinton had the lead in numerous recent national polls over Republican Donald Trump, the outcome is far from sure in what will likely be a brutal, negative contest. But the world wants her to win, and if foreigners were allowed to vote in November's election, she would prevail by a landslide.

Ms. Clinton was the standout winner, for example, with some 20,000 people in G20 countries, including Canada, according to a poll by Handelsblatt earlier this year. Among the G20 countries other than the United States, the only one where Mr. Trump bested Ms. Clinton was Russia.

That Ms. Clinton would win in a global contest against Mr. Trump, despite the reservations some hold about her, partially reflects bigger concerns that many foreigners have about the billionaire businessman's fiery rhetoric and policy positions. It is no coincidence that the G20 country where she received most support was Mexico, which Mr. Trump has widely assailed as part of his incredible proposal to build a border wall.

Aside from the anti-Trump effect, however, many want Ms. Clinton as president given the strong role she played as secretary of state in the Obama administration in helping to restore the U.S. reputation in the world following George W. Bush's presidency. In 2009, Mr. Obama and Ms. Clinton confronted a situation in which anti-U.S. sentiment was at about its highest levels since at least the Vietnam War, a situation that could be repeated if Donald Trump were elected in November.

Significant efforts have been made to turn around this climate of international perception. Within a year of Mr. Obama and Ms. Clinton assuming office, for example, several opinion surveys found that anti-Americanism was generally on the decline again, with favourable perceptions of the United States having increased by about 30 percentage points in some countries in 2009 over 2008, according to the Pew Global Attitude Projects.

As secretary of state, Ms. Clinton was instrumental by championing a smart-power strategy that sought to rebalance the overwhelming emphasis on hard power (especially military might) during the Bush presidency more toward soft power (including enhanced diplomacy). John Kerry picked up on this smart-power road map after taking over from Ms. Clinton, by continuing to emphasize priorities such as championing a new global climate change deal in Paris last November; the U.S. opening-up initiative to Cuba; and the nuclear deal with Iran.

U.S. global diplomacy has not been without setbacks during the Obama years; perhaps the biggest failure has been toward what the President has called the Islamic world. Despite the early promise of his Cairo speech in 2009, in which he sought to reset U.S. relations with Muslim-majority countries, pockets of very high anti-Americanism remain in several key countries, including Pakistan and Egypt, which have not been substantially addressed.

This is precisely one of the key reasons why much of the world wants Ms. Clinton in the White House. For at the very time when the United States should redouble its efforts to win the battle for "hearts and minds" in Muslim-majority countries, Mr. Trump has all the makings of a diplomatic disaster. His indiscriminate plan to "shut down" Muslim immigration into the United States has provoked anger and been widely condemned.

While a Trump victory cannot be ruled out in November, Ms. Clinton would win by a landslide if foreigners were allowed to vote. The world wants her to win not just to avoid the diplomatic disaster of a Trump presidency, but also because her vision of U.S. foreign policy is widely shared by many around the world.

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