It’s gone. The Romney lead is gone. Our Israel Factor experts, like it or not, have given President Obama a mark identical to Romney’s on the ultimate question of “good for Israel”.
Not a small feat, considering the fact that this is the first time for them to do such thing in a very long time.
Romney, as you can see in the following graph, was ahead of Obama for almost the whole time since we started tracking the candidates back in 2006.
I’ll tell you why it happened right after the graph:
Four explanations can help us understand the mysterious ways of the panel:
The enthusiasm gap: Of our 10-member panel, five still think that Romney is the better candidate for Israel and give him a higher mark. Four panelists believe that an Obama second term is better for Israel. One panelist quite consistently gives them both the same mark. However, the Obama-tilted experts are more enthusiastic about him than the Romney-tilted experts feel strongly about Romney (so remember, most of the panel still believes Romney is the better candidate).
The dislike gap: The Obama-tilted experts tend to be quite dismissive of Romney. They dislike Romney more than the other group dislike Obama. Some of them seem to dislike the Republican Party and ideology. We compared the panelists’ answers and the picture became very clear: the three panelists that gave Romney the lowest score are also those giving the Republican Party the lowest score (and remember, most of the panel still believes Romney is the better candidate).
The expert gap: Our panel is moderate, it is centrist – as we’ve always contended. This is not reflective of the opinion of the Israeli public. The public is a little bit less suspicious of Obama than it used to be, but is still pretty far from supporting a second Obama term, according to recent polls. A moderate panel tends to be cautious, tends not to be appreciative of tough talk and bravado, tends to ignore public sentiments. Our panel knows what the Israeli public probably wants – see question number 1, the statement before last – and takes its own path (and remember, most of the panel still believes Romney is the better candidate).
The credit gap: Maybe what the panel is doing is compensating President Obama for the lack of deserved support from Israelis. Look at the last statement in our first question – we asked the panel to rank the statement with which it agrees/disagrees, and the last statement was “Obama is not getting enough credit from Israelis for his support and assistance”. The panel gave this statement a 4 out of 5. That’s pretty high. And interestingly, those believing Obama deserves more credit also gave him a higher mark, as if they were supposed to balance this deficiency in credit due (and we still have to remember: more of the panel still believes Romney is the better candidate).
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