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Israel Factor: Biden & Rubio Contentious, Christie & Cuomo Acceptable

by Shmuel Rosner

March 11, 2014 | 4:29 am

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden. Photo by REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

Let’s take a look at six 2016 Presidential candidates that all the members of our Israel Factor panel ranked in our latest Israel Factor survey (Feb. 2014). Three of them are potential Democratic candidates, the other three are potential Republican candidates.

First, we will show you the average grade they got from the panel – all ten members of the panel – on the traditional question that we have asked in every survey in the last six years: "please rank the following presidential candidates on scale of 1 (very bad for Israel) to 10 (great for Israel)". Leading the pack – as in all presidential polls among Americans in general - is Hillary Clinton. Namely, our panel currently believes that it would be the best outcome for Israel if Clinton becomes the next US president. A close second is Andrew Cuomo, with Vice President Joe Biden coming in third – Biden is tied with the leading Republican candidate, Jeb Bush (of course, no one knows if Bush is going to be an actual candidate). Here’s the table of candidates with their average marks (out of possible 10):

Hillary Clinton

7.5

Andrew Cuomo

7.37

Joe Biden

7.2

Jeb Bush

7.2

Chris Christie

6.6

Marco Rubio

6.4

Paul Ryan

5.3

 

Is “good for Israel” a question of unbiased bipartisan assessment? I guess you all understand it is not. The question of "good for Israel" (or good for whatever else) is as political as any other question. But to demonstrate how the politics of our panelists - namely, their general outlook on the American political scene and their general attitude toward the two parties - affect their ranking, we made the following calculation.

Early on, as one of our background questions, we asked each one of our panelists to tell us which American party they think is better for Israel. We then examined the matter further by looking at the positions the panelists held on five questions and listed the panelists from left to right according to the average answers they gave. The goal, and the outcome, was to identify (from the ten panelists) the four “left leaning” panelists and the four “right leaning” panelists (two were left as the “centrists”) and to see how they differ as they rank the presidential candidates. It makes for interesting, if predictable, proof that experts, like most other people, tend to be partisan in their outlook – or maybe it just tells you that the experts are consistent in their analysis. We report, you decide. And remember: This isn’t a poll, it is a survey of a small group, so don’t get over-excited because of these numbers.

Here are the three Democratic candidates listed above, as they were ranked (on average) by the left-leaning and the right-leaning panelists:

Candidate

Left leaning

Right leaning

Hillary Clinton

8.25

6.5

Joe Biden

8

5.75

Andrew Cuomo

7.5

7.25

 

And here is the same table for the potential Republican candidates:

Candidate

Left leaning

Right leaning

Chris Christie

6.25

6.5

Marco Rubio

5

7.5

Jeb Bush

6.75

7.5

 

Four quick comments:

  1. Our right leaning panelists, for a reason I can’t fathom (more grim outlook in general?), generally give lower marks to everybody. Thus, candidates who are more likely to get their support lose points. If we weigh the results more properly and take that into account, it makes some of the gaps disappear (we have done it in the past from time to time – and might need to do it again).
  2. On the other hand, our Democratic-leaning panelists give much lower marks to GOP candidates, than the GOP-leaning panelists give to Democratic candidates. For example, the lowest mark for Clinton is a 5, the lowest for Bush is a 3. So either our GOP-leaning panelists are fairer, or Democratic candidates are just better (generally speaking).
  3. The most significant gap between “right” and “left” concerns Senator Marco Rubio. That is not a huge surprise, as Tea Party candidates always score low with our Democratic-leaning panelists. There is also a significant gap concerning Vice President Joe Biden. For Democratic-leaning panelists Biden is almost as good as Clinton, for GOP-leaning panelists, a Biden presidency doesn’t seem like a brilliant idea. Possible explanation: Biden’s role in the Obama administration.
  4. Chris Christie and Andrew Cuomo get almost the same marks from the two groups of panelists. They are the moderate candidates that seem acceptable to everybody.
  5. It is worth noting that most viable candidates are doing reasonably well with the panel. The one who isn't doing well is, not surprisingly, Rand Paul, with an average of 2.66. If he gets the nomination – and there is still a long time until the vote – the Israel Factor will become quite predictable from the time of the nomination up until the day of election.
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