One wonders how Russians view the American Primaries?
Though they are perceived by almost everyone as something of very little importance as far as the problems of Russia are concerned, most people (those who are interested in what is happening in the world, of course) are aware of the competition between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton on the Democratic side as well as that John McCain will most likely be the presidential candidate from the Republican party. I do not think somebody can still name the differences between the three. It has been noticed however that the Donkey chooses between a woman and an afro-american - something out of the ordinary.
I think it is quite normal that existing or future government of another country is regarded from abroad through the perspective of foreign policy and international relations while "internal" likes and dislikes are defined by domestic subjects. The contrary, I think, probably signals that a country has serious problems. I have to confess, I know nothing of what the "hottest" topics in the US debates are. I guess one of them must be the war in Iraq and Afghanistan and I doubt that tortures of prisoners by US interrogators get the same focus as outside the US, the same as consumer prices are more important for an average Russian here than oppressive measures against terrorists and supposed terrorists in the Caucasus areas of Russia. It seems it has always been so, even if in terms of history of the two such issues the latter always turns up much more important than the former.
Russian political scientists used to consider Republican presidents to be better for Russia as compared to Democrats. Never researched into this question myself but in my opinion Bill Clinton's administration is definitely to blame (to a degree, of course) for destruction of the economy here and emergence of a police state, which Russia became in 1990's, when USA rendered full support to Boris Yeltsin and his cronies for the sake of having a pro-western leadership in this country.
For Ronald Reagan, who was a Republican, we were an "Evil Empire" and the worse we here lived the better it was for his concept of "freedom". I was a secondary school student back then and do not remember any immediate effects of the economic measures he took against the Soviet Union but looking from today Reagan seems to have tried his hardest to make us poorer. Well, SU and US were Cold War adversaries at that time, but together with the Clinton's hypocritical policy (pay lip service to democracy, support a brutal and corrupt regime and make the best of it) it now leaves the majority of Russians with a strong belief that USA would never do anything good to us.
Apologies for my "anti-american outburst", initially I only intended to answer the question about the primaries but it led me to Russian-American relations in general and people's attitudes to them. Please do not see it as another attempt to bash USA and blame them for all the world's evil. Personally I admire US for its contribution to the human progress and at the same time hate it (sorry, American a2k members) for imposing its interests and even its way of life on other nations which is too often done by force, either military or economic. As to America and Russia, somebody on a2k once wrote that we are two extremes of the Western civilisation and I tend to agree with it. Both have its own list of flaws in the present and the past, which are better seen from the outside.
Honestly I am sure that any country has something that should be borrowed by other nations while USA has lots of such things: just take for instance a structure of federal, state and local governments, which successfully functions on a huge territory, checks and balances that allow taking into account multiple interests, policies that encourage scientific development, academic research and progress in technologies, legal and financial incentives to business activities etc. There are far too many examples that have to be followed. But not all of them, not the whole system. Primaries fall into this model quite well; I consider them pretty good means to balance interests of political elite and rank-and-file party members/supporters, however in my opinion they involve too much of an expensive PR campaign for every candidate, what makes each of them dependant on their budget, which in its turn turns to a sort of contest between sponsors with thick wallets and commercial interests instead of genuine competition of ideas. Overall I do not think a two-party system is the best option as it hardly allows new figures on the scene and leaves many outsiders thus hampering changes whereas they might be necessary.
Btw very soon, on March 2 we are having our presidential elections. C.I., you are probably right, at least US primaries are more interesting to watch. I have never been to the States and know very little of people's needs and expectations there, so I do not presume to judge whether the primaries and the subsequent November elections really mean to bring improvement to the life of average American. On the streets of Moscow, unlike the last December's parliamentary election, I can see no campaigners trying to persuade people to vote for one or another candidate (in December I met plenty of them from the Communist party). If not for the posters reminding of the voting a foreign visitor could hardly understand that the country will elect its head of state in a fortnight. I heard there were televised debates that the most likely winner did not even bother himself to attend. I recall the height of the economic crisis of the late 80's - early 90's, which finally resulted in the collapse of the whole state, when people angry and tired with the awkward policy of last Soviet government sometimes said that the best leadership for the country could be the one whose presence in the country would remain unnoticed. We truly seem to be on the way to such a state as the change of our government is already none of our concern and interest.
Some info on the upcoming presidential elections in Russia: Rivals in Kremlin Race
P.S. I seem unable to do without long posts
It apparently becomes a tradition. Even in a foreign language. Still hope they are not too boring or incomprehensible to read.