We know this is quite early, and we know that you are all suffering from election fatigue, and we know that what we can currently accomplish barely merits being called speculation. Nonetheless – our job is to prepare, be ahead of the curve, get started when everyone else is still numb. The 2013 Congress, as Ron Kampeas reported, “will be missing some of its longtime pro-Israel pillars”. It will also be a Congress – on the House side - in which the number of Jewish legislators is the lowest of the last 20 years. If you read carefully our updated House Projection, you’ll realize that 2014 election might not be much better than the last cycle when it comes to Jewish representation.
If you’re not familiar with our J Meter House Projection and Senate Projection, here’s your chance to familiarize yourself. This feature is a markedly tribal one: We track the races of Jewish Congressmen and women, and the races in which a Jewish candidate has a chance of winning. We understand that some readers might think such a number doesn’t have much significance, and we know from past cycles that some readers find such an endeavor annoying. But we respectfully disagree: The way a minority is represented in Congress can reflect many things, and changes in representation are also indicative of many issues. So, as usual, we are going to track – and we hope you follow.
Our record of projection is solid – a couple of months before the 2008, 2010 and 2012 cycles, we were able to quite accurately forecast the number of Jewish House and Senate members. Obviously, the project of forecasting 2014 is just beginning, and everything we say now could change many times before Election Day. Nevertheless, our first take is in: the 2015 Senate will have nine Jewish Senators, and the 2015 House will have 24 Jewish representatives. Take a look at the lists and the analysis, and follow our projection: Senate and House.
We are also getting ready for 2013 and for the next Israeli government. And since every indication we have, including the authoritative Israel Poll Trends tracker by Prof. Camil Fuchs, tells us that PM Netanyahu is going to head the next government, we’re getting ready by revamping our Netanyahu Approval tracker. The page now includes more information and a new graph. Take a look.
Our Israel Factor panel is also getting ready to return, with new faces and some surprises. How the panel responds to a Hagel nomination for Defense is going to be interesting. When Hagel was pondering a run for the presidency he was ranked at the bottom of the list – in fact, it was Obama and him at the bottom, switching places from time to time.
Now Obama is president with a record on Israel that was an issue for debate during the last campaign – and this record will surely be on the table again if he decides to nominate Hagel for Defense, as many reports believe he already has. No wonder that pro-Israel leaders are growing nervous, crying foul. In 2007, when Hagel hinted that he might run, the Israel Factor panel did not welcome the news. Here’s what we wrote six years ago:
At the beginning of the week, the Republican senator from Nebraska, Chuck Hagel, hinted that there is still a possibility he will run. If he decides to do so, he might enter the race as an independent. He has received the lowest score from the panel for many months; one panelist explains that this is because he is "multilateral in his international approach." Others offer similar reasons: "He has a simplistic concept of foreign policy and the Middle East," and "he is the least sympathetic to Israel," "his cold attitude toward Israel," and "he is ready to accept countries that support terrorism." Hagel, who does not conform to the Republican line, is one of the fiercest critics of the Bush administration. In the panel's perception, his attitude toward Israel will be closer to that of the first president Bush than the second.
For your amusement, here’s the original Israel Factor’s first ranking, from October 2006. The question was “how good is the candidate for Israel?” (from 1 to 10). The numbers in parenthesis are the weighted numbers, as calculated by Prof. Camil Fuchs. Imagine that: the two least favorable of 2006 as president and defense secretary.
US News did a short piece about Ambassador Oren and the question of whether PM Netanyahu did in fact “meddle” in the 2012 election (in favor of Romney). I was quoted in that short piece, but the reporter, Elizabeth Flock, didn’t use my quote in full. I have no complaints, the quote is sound, and I don’t expect my quotes to be used fully – I often don’t use full quotes in my stories. But I do feel that the full quote clarifies my position more than the partial one, so here it is.
The question Flock posed was this: Amb. Oren basically denied that Netanyahu had taken sides or meddled in the presidential election at all, and said that was just American media spin. He said: “Every time there was some statement here made about the nature of the Iranian nuclear threat and the prime minister responded, and expressed Israel’s interest and Israel’s perspective, it was immediately misinterpreted here as a sort of an illicit attempt to interfere in American political politics, and it wasn’t true.” What are your thoughts on this? Would you say that those comments are accurate?
And my response: Answering your question. I basically think Oren is right. We all understand that Netanyahu and Obama is no love story and that Netanyahu would probably prefer a Romney White House - hence we interpret every word or deed of his as an attempt to assist Romney. But in fact when one looks at the actual words and deeds, Netanyahu was careful never to say or do something that is markedly pro-Romney. It is all guilt by assumption (media) and association (Sheldon Adelson). So - that we wanted Romney to win I have no doubt, that he truly made an effort to make this happen I see no proof.