Poll Shows Americans Like Netanyahu

July 31, 2012  

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, whose rating in Israel has slipped to some extent, enjoys a favorable image in a recent Gallup poll in the United States,

Of the 60 percent of the respondents who said they were familiar enough with him to give a rating, 35 percent had a positive view of him compared with only 23 percent having a negative view.

The results were astonishingly similar to a poll carried out in 1999 when Netanyahu was serving his first term as Prime Minister.

Gallup’s survey was carried out two weeks ago in advance of presumptive Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s visit to Israel and meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu earlier this week.

Gallup did not detail why respondents have a good image of Netanyahu, but the positive results indicate that the poor relations between him and President Barack Obama in the first half of the president’s term of office did not damage the Prime Minister’s image.

Given opposition of Republicans to Obama’s foreign policy, particularly towards Israel, the undiplomatic receptions Obama previously gave the Prime Minister may even have been to Netanyahu’s advantage, especially since they were widely publicized.

“Americans have a more positive than negative view of Netanyahu, perhaps due to their favorable attitudes toward Israel more generally,” Gallup noted. “Netanyahu’s ratings in the U.S. are aided in large part by Republicans’ positive opinions of him. Democrats tend to view him more negatively than positively, perhaps due to his ideological leanings but also his recent disagreements with President Obama.”

Regardless of Netanyahu’s favorable image, it will have a limited spillover effect for Romney because Israel is a back-burner issue for most Americans, including Jews.

A poll in a New York district where 31 percent of the voters are Jewish, showed that only six percent of the voters thought Israel was the most important election issue.

“Israel has not been at the top of the Jewish agenda for years. In the last presidential election it ranked eighth out of 15 issues, behind healthcare, gasoline prices, energy, taxes and education, according to former American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) lobbyist Doug Bloomfield, quoted by Gestetner Updates.

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