June 4, 2013 | 12:04 pm
Our Israel Factor panel hasn't really changed its tune in recent months. It still believes Hillary Clinton is the best 2016 Presidential candidate as far as Israel is concerned. It still sees Andrew Cuomo as the number two Democratic candidate: Cuomo did just a little better than Vice President Biden- he got a 7.88 and Biden 7.83- in the new Factor survey (new to The Israel Factor? Read What is The Israel Factor?). The GOP’s leading candidate, lagging behind Clinton and several other Democrats but leading among Republicans, is still Jeb Bush. Take a look at this graph in which you can see how the three candidates mentioned above have been doing since we began the 2013-2014 round of The Israel Factor-
Three main trends are in place as we conclude the first half of the year and enter the summer – and before we list them we have to remind ourselves that the past six months were somewhat inactive, politically speaking: it isn’t an election year, and the list of candidates is long but very speculative at this point (many of the candidates on our list haven't been ranked yet by all our panelists as some panelists don’t feel they have enough information about them – you can see the full list and see who was only partially ranked right here).
Anyway, here's what we got:
1. The panel at this stage feels more comfortable with Democratic candidates. This isn’t the way it used to be in previous Factor rounds (we began, for those who don’t remember, back in 2006). Why is that? Some of it could be attributed to changes in the panel that might have made it more “dovish”; some of it has to do with the changing Republican Party and the way it is perceived by our experts; and some of it has to do with the growing ease with which the panel views Obama – when we began in 2006 Obama seemed very suspicious to many Israelis but they have gotten used to him by now (even if the marks they give him on many foreign issues aren’t very high – as we will see in the next Factor post).
2. The panel is more comfortable with familiar faces. This isn’t exactly new but it may explain why Clinton, Biden, Cuomo, and Bush are doing better than other candidates. As I already said, many of the lesser known candidates weren’t even ranked by some of the panelists, so even if they got good marks from the panelists who did rank them we should take these ranks with a grain of suspicion.
3. The panel has already made its decision concerning 2016's least-desired candidate: That would be Rand Paul with 3.33 out of 10. Naturally, this choice isn’t surprising considering his isolationist streak (I interviewed Paul not long ago, and attempted to get a better glimpse of his Israel-related views – you can read the interview here). It should be noted though, that this panel similarly saw Barack Obama as the least-desired candidate between 2006-2008, and we all know how that round ended (we also know that the panel today is much more forgiving and positive toward Obama than it was seven years ago).
One last note: we were intrigued to see how Jeb Bush’s average ranking doesn’t seem to change from one survey to the other and decided to check if this is due to panelists repeating their exact same vote every survey. The answer is no. Here’s a comparison of the March 2013 and the June 2013 ranking. We can’t reveal the actual vote of specific panelists, but we can tell you that what you see in the row is compatible. That is, you see how each of nine panelists voted in June compared to how the same panelists voted in March (one panelist didn’t vote). In some cases the marks are just the same, but in other cases there were changes. The fact that Bush was a 7 in March and is a 7 in June is not because of exact repetition:
Ranking of Bush: 3.2013-6.2013
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