That's not only true when it comes to Germany. Throughout Europe the vast majority preferred Obama over Romney by huge margins - probably by 80% or more in most countries. Republicans are viewed by many as dangerous, ignorant and heartless fruitcakes with a gun in one hand and a bible in the other. Strangely enough in most of Europe itself right wing parties are winning election after election, although it seems to be slowly turning around now.
Not only in Europe. In Quebec we have the same feeling about the Republicans. And beyond the feeling, every time they accede to power they ruin the States and trigger wars everywhere. Obama is not my idol, but the World is better off with him than with his opponents. That being said, Obama's comments suggest that he's almost as religious as Republicans. The separation of Church and State is pure utopia in this country.
But the last election in Belgium was also won by a right wing seperatist party even though a survey showed that the people who voted for them totally disagree with their political agenda. All this because the party leader is a charismatic figure who did very well in a daily quizz show over here where he won them over with his wicked sense of humour. Not much of a basis to vote for someone, but a clear demonstration of the fact that more often than not people have no idea what the're actually voting for.
This is interesting. As well as Jimmie's comments on Germany. I always enjoy hearing about foreign policy.
That being said, and even if I agree that many people "have no idea what the're actually voting for" as you state, one must recognize that voting often involves difficult choices that go beyond superficial logic. In other words, we must give the benefit of the doubt to the voters, because behind what may seem to be a thoughtless choice, often lay a thoughtful and carefully considered choice. The problem is that the voter often have to choose between the "lesser of two evils". So he does not vote in consideration of his values and opinions, but to avoid the worst.
For example, here in Quebec, we currently have a choice between a well established center-left party promoting Quebec sovereignty (PQ). A center-right party, also well established (PLQ). Or a newly formed right-wing party (from an economic POV)(CAQ). Despite repeated requests from the population, we don't have proportional representation, so every votes for minor parties are a waste. This already bring a problem, because the voter who would vote for the Green Party or for a left-wing party often stay at home since he knows that his vote has no impact.
Another major problem is that the center-left voter who doesn't want the independence is not represented. So, he will either stay at home, or he may vote for the center-right party, despite his socialist view.
But where things get complicated really is in the details. For example, the new right-wing party is essentially composed of young inexperienced politicians, often without qualifications or diplomas and even the party leaders are not particularly bright. So, even if you share their views, would you really vote for them?
The PQ has a nationalist program based on the protection of Quebec culture and language that does not appeals to immigrants and Anglophones and is seen by some (even French speakers)as racist and intolerant (well yes, the desire to protect our culture is apparently racist
It's normal for everyone else but us). As I have said, if you're not sovereignists, or if you don't like their nationalist program, you'll vote for another party, even if you like their center-left ideas.
Finally, the PLQ (who has formed the government for the last 10 years)is currently strongly suspected of corruption and seems to have had disturbing relationships with the Mafia. Its deputies are also seen as arrogants and they have showed no respect for the population, its wishes and concerns. Would you vote for them?
To complete the portrait, none of these parties has proven to be particularly competent in the recent past. Thus, a reasonably intelligent voter can hardly vote with conviction and he has to make compromises between his values and the incompetence and/or the corruption of his leaders. Which sometimes results in seemingly illogical choice, even if a processus of reflection is behind this choice.