January 20, 2012 | 12:01 pm
Our Israel Factor panel was never directly asked this question: Who’s better for Israel, Romney or Gingrich? And if both candidates Romney and Gingrich survive the SC, Florida and Nevada primaries we will make sure to fix this in our next survey.
But in the meantime, as the duo enters the SC primary almost tied in the polls, we wanted to compare the performance on the two in previous Factor surveys and try to assess what makes each of them a stronger candidate in the eyes of the panel.
First, the numbers, Romney and Gingrich since 2006:
Now, some analysis:
1. One can see that initially it was clearly the more familiar Gingrich who was considered “better for Israel” by the panel. However, as the panel learned more about Romney, and more pronouncedly in the 2012 cycle, it was Romney on top. The reason for this is simple: Romney is less controversial, and panel members, while not overly enthusiastic about him, see him as safe. With Gingrich the story is different: Some panelists give him very high marks but he also gets some relatively low marks from more suspicious members of the team.
2. Take a look at a question we’ve asked in our most recent survey: “On a scale of 1 (not at all worried) to 5 (very worried), how worried were you (or how worried do you think Israel should be) by the following statements and incidents?”, specifically at the references to “Candidate Gingrich saying the Palestinians are ‘invented’ people” and to “Candidate Romney refusing to commit to move the American embassy to Jerusalem”. It is clear that the panel is more worried about Gingrich’s comment than about Romney’s reluctance to make a commitment. Of course, these two rated comments are different in nature. But the fact of the matter is that Gingrich tends to make such controversial comments, while all Romney is doing is refraining from making commitments is telling, and obviously, our panel prefers the later approach to the former.
Secretary of State Clinton allegedly comparing Israel to Iran
Secretary of Defense Panetta calling on Israelis and Palestinians to go “back to the damn table”
The American ambassador to Belgium saying Israel is partially responsible for anti Semitism
Candidate Gingrich saying the Palestinians are “invented” people
Candidate Romney refusing to commit to move the American embassy to Jerusalem
Candidate Paul’s very strong showing in Iowa and New Hampshire
Israel becoming a political tool in the battle between Republicans and Democrats
3. As you should know by now, we never reveal the way specific panelists vote in our surveys. But we can show you how the votes are spread: This makes clear why consensual Romney is doing better with the Factor than controversial Gingrich:
4. This is also a reason for which this panel believes Romney has better chance of peeling more Jewish support away from Obama. Panelists believe that some Jews might be reluctant to support someone as conservative as Gingrich, but would consider a more moderate Republican like Romney.
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