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Israel Factor: Obama more likely to attack Iran than Romney

by Shmuel Rosner

August 13, 2012 | 9:24 am

Barack Obama addressing AIPAC, April 2012. (Photo: Reuters)

A year ago, Mitt Romney’s Israel Factor score was 7.4 and Barack Obama’s was ‎‎5.5.

What a difference a year can make in time and perspective: in our new ‎survey for the Israel Factor, Barack Obama – for the first time – is leading over ‎Romney.

This change was a long time coming. In May 2012 they were almost tied, in July ‎and June the two were tied. Take a look at Obama’s and Romney’s path to August 2012:‎

Photo

So what happened in the past month to put Obama ‎slightly ahead? Two things:‎

A.‎ Romney’s visit to Israel, probably more acceptable to most Israelis than to ‎our panel, was somewhat problematic in the mainstream expert view. ‎Romney was playing politics – while the expert prefer policy driven ‎statements, comments and actions. We asked one panelist why his vote ‎for Obama went down from 9 to 8, and the visit was the reason. The ‎‎“Palestinian culture” statement, and generally, the “turning of Israel into a ‎wedge issue” didn’t make this panelist (who still favors Romney over ‎Obama) happy.‎

B.‎ Obama’s seemingly tough position on the Iranian issue is making a ‎difference. We’ve argued many times that Iran is the most revealing issue ‎on which many Israelis – our panel included – look at the candidates and ‎how “good” they are on Israel. We dedicated a long question to Iran in this ‎survey, supplying the panel with statements to rank from totally disagree ‎‎(1) to totally agree (10). Look at these two statements and how the panel ‎rated them:‎


Obama will use force against Iran if diplomacy doesn’t work

6.44

If elected, Romney will use force against Iran if ‎diplomacy doesn’t work

6.11


In other words: disregarding Romney’s implied claim that he will be tougher than ‎Obama on Iran – that he is more likely to use force against Tehran’s leaders – ‎the panel ranks Obama higher on this specific issue of using force. The panel ‎sees in Obama the determination to stop Iran by all available means. And while ‎the difference between Obama and Romney on this question is not great, it ‎even gives Obama a little more credit than it does Romney. ‎

As you know, we don’t reveal the way each panelist votes on specific questions, ‎but counting the panelists, I can share another interesting fact: Four panelists ‎gave Obama higher marks on this question – only two panelists gave Romney ‎the edge (the rest ranked them identically). Also note that no panelist gave ‎Obama lower than a score of 5 on this question. No panelist thinks there’s no ‎chance in the world that Obama would use force against Iran.‎

Interesting, is it not? I’m sure many readers aren’t going to agree with our panel ‎‎– and even more certain that many Israelis would not agree with it either. But ‎we’re doing a panel survey, not a public opinion poll. Next week, I’ll share with ‎you some of the reasons why our panelists have changed their rankings. ‎

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