Well, sort of.
The London-based business magazine developed a digitized global version of the U.S. Electoral College, based on the population of each country, that went live today.
The U.S. election is a closely watched contest not only stateside but also overseas, said Ron Diorio, The Economist's VP-product and community development in New York.
A bit of an education
The Economist also wants to expand its online presence and engage with readers on difficult topics, he said. "We thought it would be fun and a bit of an education [about the U.S. election system] to let the world vote for the next American president, following U.S. Electoral College rules."
China, with a population of more than 1.1 billion, has 1,900 votes, followed by India, with 1,588 votes. The smallest places on the planet, such as the Bahamas and Vatican City, have 3 votes each.
"In our electoral college, if [Barack] Obama and [John] McCain were running for world president, they would be pandering to China, India and Indonesia," Mr. Diorio said, touching on the irony that the lives of non-U.S. citizens can be affected by a leader they don't get to choose.
"We're trying to recognize that the U.S. has a significant role in the world's economy and politics and offer people a way to get a little bit off their chest."
Red and blue countries, natch
The online voting engine will color each country blue or red, depending on whether Mr. Obama or Mr. McCain, respectively, is leading the race in that country. Starting today, the site will be updated each time 10 new votes are logged.
The site is not limited to the magazine's subscribers -- the majority of which now live in the U.S. -- although all users have to register online to participate. The Economist has 679,796 subscribers in the U.S., out of 1.34 million worldwide.
The microsite will be marketed globally with ads running in the print edition and on the main website, as well as with a humorous spot that will run on video sites such as YouTube and be distributed virally by e-mail and seeded in social-networking communities such as Facebook.
The U.S. election is the "biggest story of the year for American readers and is of intense interest to [The Economist's] readers everywhere," said Charles Brian-Boys, a managing partner at Eight Partnership. The Hong Kong-based independent marketing consultancy created the electoral college web site and supporting ad campaign.
The Economist initially planned to exclude the U.S. from its global election site, "since Americans get to vote for real," said Mr. Diorio.
432 votes for U.S.
The company later backtracked on that decision and opted to include America, the third-largest country in the world, based on population. The U.S. has 432 votes in The Economist's electoral college.
"We thought it would be good to include the U.S., so Americans can see the size of the U.S. relative to the rest of the world. It gives them a different perspective."
Votes can be cast on The Economist's site through the real Election Day, Nov. 4, when a winner will be declared online.