Jewish Journal


February 5, 2013

Israel Factor: Biden, Rubio, Divisive Candidates



Vice President Biden, photo by Reuters

We still owe you some numbers from our latest Israel Factor survey...

It wasn’t all about Hagel, or about the gap between Democratic and Republican levels of support for Israel- the survey also included our traditional ranking of potential Presidential candidates (and yes, we do know it’s four more years for Obama before the next presidential ballots are cast). And while the two favorite prospective candidates are still very much there and are still in the same order – Andrew Cuomo on top, Hillary Clinton second (Cory Booker is third, though he hasn’t yet been ranked by all panelists) – there are still some details and (hopefully) insights that need to be added:

First, more numbers. Yes, Cuomo is the favorite and Clinton is his main Factor rival, but what happens when we examine the panel’s rankings by political affiliation? (to understand what political affiliation means in this context – read here). Take a look:



Let’s focus on the candidates on top and on the more well known ones: Biden, Clinton, Cuomo, Bush. Vice President Biden is the most polarizing of this bunch. The members of the panel who believe that the Democratic Party is the better one for Israel would pick Biden over all other candidates – they even like him better than other Democrats such as Clinton and Cuomo. But panelists who trust the Republican Party on Israel have much less regard for Biden. In fact, twelve other prospective candidates rank better in the eyes of GOP-leaning panelists.

You can give our GOP-leaning panelists this: they aren’t playing partisan politics when they rank the candidates. Cuomo, Clinton and Booker are Democrats, and those panelists rank them favorably. They also rank Republican candidates such as Bush, Christie, Rubio and Ryan favorably. But this isn’t the case with our Democratic-leaning panelists. These tend to be – for reasons unknown to me at this point – much less generous with the Republican field. Maybe they don’t find any Republican candidate agreeable. Christie, 7.25 among the former, is 6 among the latter. Rubio is an exemplary case: 7.75 - almost at the top with GOP-leaning panelists. But he only gets a meager 4.5 with the Democratic-leaning group. Rubio is even more divisive amongst our panelists than Joe Biden. 

Of course, there are cases in which the Democratic-Republican disagreement is even more pronounced: Sarah Palin is 4.2 all in all, 6 among the “GOP group” but just 1.75 with the “Dem group”. Mike Huckabee’s average is 5.5, but he is 6.75 with the former and 2.67 with the latter. 

One more thing: A couple of weeks ago, Senator Rand Paul was in Israel for a visit that was somewhat surprising in tone, as Seth Lipsky has noted:

“Paul is less libertarian than his dad, Ron, the congressman also often accused of being anti-Israel because he doesn’t want to become entangled in the Middle East or elsewhere overseas and believes foreign aid is unconstitutional. But Rand, who’s positioning himself for a 2016 presidential run, is also leery of foreign aid… he said the debt problem means “that we have to reassess who to give aid to, and when we do reassess that, I would begin with countries that are burning our flag and chanting ‘Death to America.’” Then, he added, “No one is accusing Israel of that.” He didn’t want his visit to be about “touting and spouting” cutting aid to Israel, saying, “I came here to show that I am supportive of the relationship between Israel and America”… 

In The Telegraph an American Historian called Rand a “born again Zionist”:

[T]here’s no denying that Rand is rebranding himself with gusto, distancing himself from his father’s association with the anti-Israeli Right. All of his pronouncements were framed in terms of what's good for Jerusalem: no military aid to Egypt because of Morsi’s anti-Israel rhetoric and no intervention in Syria because the opposition might contain elements of al-Qaeda…

Apparently, our panel doesn’t quite buy the new Rand Paul posture, or maybe the impression of the Paul visit has not yet been registered. With 2.57 he is last on our list of “good for Israel” candidates, getting low scores from Dem-leaning and GOP-leaning panelists alike (1.33 and 3.33 respectively).

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