Jewish Journal


The Israel Factor 2016 Rankings: Why Clinton is Ahead of Christie

by Shmuel Rosner

December 3, 2013 | 8:21 am

Hillary Clinton, Photo by Reuters

As we do in every Israel Factor survey of Israeli experts, we asked in our November survey about the prospective Presidential candidates. Our intention is to see how Israeli experts assess the candidates through the admittedly very narrow lenses of “bad for Israel” and “good for Israel”. The Factor has a long history of ranking Presidential candidates (we had similar rankings before the 2008 and the 2012 elections). A year ago, right after the last election, we began our current cycle of rankings ahead of the 2016 election. As always at the beginning of such cycles, our list of candidates is very long – 27 men and women at this point – and our panelists are free to not rank candidates with whom they don’t feel familiar enough. This survey is the first one, though, in which all candidates were rank by at least 7 panelists, while the leading candidates were ranked by all 10 members of our panel.

The overall picture: Hillary Clinton is the favorite. She is ranked high by most panelists. Joe Biden is a fairly close second, followed by Cory Booker, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, and Andrew Cuomo. These are the candidates that received a mark between 7 and 8 (Cuomo got a 7.25, Clinton got an 8). Generally speaking, the Democratic candidates are doing better with our panel than the Republican ones. This is mainly a result of the panels’ Dem-leaning panelists being more negative about GOP candidates than the panel’s GOP-leaning panelists' are about Democratic candidates. In other words: Hillary Clinton is ranked high by both groups of panelists, while, for example, Marco Rubio is ranked high by the GOP-leaning group of panelists, but low by the Dem-leaning group of panelists (to understand how we divide our panel into two groups of “leanings” see here).

This difference in ranking can be the result of many reasons, but a notable one is the apprehension, shared even by the panel’s GOP-leaning members, regarding the more radical – Tea Party types – among the Republican candidates. When a small panel like ours is voting, the advantage is always for a candidate that is less polarizing. If a candidate is seen as OK by everyone, she’d often do better than the candidate that is deemed great by some by terrible by others. Here’s a table demonstrating it. In it you can see how Dem-leaning and GOP-leaning panelists voted for four candidates – and the average of those four:






Hillary Clinton




Joe Biden




Marco Rubio




Ted Cruz





The gap in the vote for Clinton is 1.5, while the gap for Rubio is 2.33. That makes it much trickier for a Rubio to get a decent average and rank higher in our survey. The gap for Christie is just 0.5 – and that’s why, even as a Republican candidate, he is ranked favorably by the panel. But there’s another – somewhat odd – factor in play here. GOP-leaning panelists tend to give lower marks to the candidates they like, thus making them less likely to get a high average mark. Example: Jeb Bush ranks the highest among GOP-leaning panelists with 7.75. Clinton ranks highest among Dem-leaning panelists with 8.75.

All in all, the score of the leading candidates hasn’t changed a lot in the last year but is increasingly climbing. For Clinton, though, this month was the first small decline in the final rank. Here is how she and Christie – the most talked-about prospective candidates of the last couple of months - fared against one another from the end of 2012 to the end of 2013:

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