11/06/2012 06:25 EST | Updated 01/06/2013 05:12 EST

B.C. political leaders watching U.S. election outcome

Political leaders in B.C. are paying close attention to the outcome of the U.S. election today, as Canada's closest ally and largest trading partner chooses the man who will determine its future political and economic direction.

Poll after poll has shown the majority of Canadians asked would vote for Barack Obama if they could. But despite the emotional connection with the Democratic Party, business experts say from an economic perspective Canada often does better with a Republican in charge.

B.C. Premier Christy Clark says no matter who's in the White House, the real key to Canadian success is a strong U.S. economy.

"You know I don't want to predict an outcome, but I will say in terms of an outcome that's good for British Columbia, as a small open trading economy that relies heavily on the United States, we are not in favour of protectionism."

"We are in favour of open trading relationships with our friends in the United States. It works for them and it works for us."

One area of focus for B.C. will be what the presidential winner does with the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline south from Alberta. If it is approved by the new president that could weaken the case for the controversial Northern Gateway Pipeline.

NDP leader backing Obama

B.C. NDP opposition leader Adrian Dix is open about who he wants to win the presidential election — Barack Obama.

"I certainly think he will and I hope he will," said Dix.

But Dix says say he hopes British Columbians can all learn something from the unrelenting negative tone of the U.S. campaigns where both parties spent billions in nasty personal attack ads.

"One of the reasons I believe so strongly that we need not to make personal attacks in campaigns is I think it lowers interest in politics and takes us away from key issues that are facing in our societies. That's clearly the case in American politics."

Dix says the fact of the matter is Mitt Romney was a successful governor in Massachusetts and Barack Obama is one of the most extraordinary political stories of this generation.

In the end he says both candidates represent what is good about the democratic process.

As for B.C. and his own campaign to become premier this spring, Dix is promising to take the high road.

"In spite of the fact I keep getting attacked, I am going to keep to a positive campaign on our side."

Two other issues on the ballot today in Washington state are state referendums on the legalization of gay marriage and marijuana possession in small amounts.