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Israel Factor: Yes, Obama leads in scoring, but not in panel supporters

by Shmuel Rosner

August 19, 2012 | 9:32 am

Barack Obama and Mitt Romney (Photo: Reuters)

The publication of our August Israel Factor survey – in which Obama, for the ‎first time, was ranked higher than Romney – made some waves. It was quoted ‎in Politico and JTA, and as expected irked some guardians of the old order ‎‎(a bit about these later). ‎

As I promised last week, I’m going to try and give you some more sense of how ‎and why Obama pulled ahead. First of all, we asked a couple of panelists to ‎explain why their vote was changed. One panelist, who gave Romney a better ‎mark in August than he did in July, told us: “I have more confidence in Romney ‎than in Obama that he will do something about Iran”. ‎

As you could see last week, this panelist was not alone, but most of the panel ‎thought otherwise: namely, that Obama is more likely to do something about ‎Iran. A panelist who raised Obama’s score in August gave us this rationale: “I ‎compared him to the alternative, which is why his score went up in general”. In ‎other words: he didn’t find Romney attractive enough to merit a much higher ‎mark than Obama. ‎

Take a look at how our panel ranked Obama compared to Romney in August (the numbers reflect ‎Obama’s score, when Romney’s score from the same person is subtracted):‎

Obama

-1

-1

+2

-1

+5

=

-2

-2

=

+2







Translation: Five panelists ranked Romney higher than Obama. Just three ‎ranked Obama higher than Romney, and two ranked them equally. However, ‎those ranking Obama higher were more inclined to rank him much higher than ‎those ranking Romney higher than Obama. ‎

Now see the July ranking of Obama compared to Romney:‎

Obama

+2

=

+3

=

=

-1

+3

-3

-2

-2







Translation: In the July survey, three panelists (the same ones) ranked Obama ‎higher. And they were almost as enthusiastic about him then as they were in ‎August. In fact, in August more panelists tended to prefer Romney – five instead ‎of four. But the advantage they see in him is shrinking a little, hence the shift ‎from equal ranking to both candidates (as we had in both June and July) to a ‎small Obama advantage. ‎

Obama’s advantage? Yes in the final score, but not in the number of panelists ‎preferring him over Romney.‎

Now let me turn my attention – and I’ll do it briefly – to all those commentators ‎and readers who were unhappy with the panel’s scoring. There were a couple ‎such people, mocking the panel, or the moderator of the panel (that would be ‎me), calling us names (“clown”, “lefty radicals” etc). I don’t much care about ‎being called names. Caroline Glick, the charismatic (if humorless) Jerusalem ‎Post columnist observed: “Surprise, surprise, the closer we get to the us ‎presidential election, the closer Rosner comes to endorsing Obama for ‎reelection while masking his personal opinion as ‘expert’ opinion”.‎

I really don’t want to spend too much time on angry readers. But being called a ‎‎“radical leftist” and a “J Street supporter” is kind of new to me (I’m usually called ‎a “neocon” or “right of center” or “partisan, AIPAC-oriented”), but I’m going to try ‎and enjoy it for as long as it lasts. Just three quick comments:‎

‎1.‎ The panel is independent. I don’t tell its members how to vote. And we ‎never pretended it to be representative of Israeli public opinion (Israelis, ‎as I have written on numerous occasions, would much rather have a ‎Romney presidency). In fact, we were quite honest about it being a ‎centrist panel. If you want a panel that will cater to your specific ideology, ‎go look someplace else (but wouldn’t it be boring, to always get the score ‎you expect?).‎

‎2.‎ The panel doesn’t “endorse” candidates. I do not and will not “endorse” ‎candidates. The Factor is an attempt to give readers a sense of what ‎Israeli experts think (yes, they are experts, check out their resumés). We ‎started this project more than six years ago and it’s still alive and kicking, ‎so I guess some people see some merit in it.‎

‎3.‎ I didn’t hear Glick complaining about the panel for the six years it ‎ranked Obama lower than Hillary Clinton, lower than John McCain, lower ‎than Mitt Romney. I didn’t hear her complaining when the Israel ‎Factor was published, for three years out of those six, by the same paper ‎she works for - the Jerusalem Post. Maybe she just didn’t notice the panel ‎for all these years, and suddenly realized what travesty is was. Or maybe ‎it is a coincidence that just when the panel, for the first time, seemed ‎more favorable to Obama she happened to become aware of this project. ‎I’m glad to have finally grabbed her attention.‎

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