Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Knesset in Jerusalem.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Gallup polling data indicates that slamming Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may fall on receptive ears for US Democratic presidential candidates in their upcoming party primaries.
A Gallup poll released on Friday showed that only 18% of Democratic voters have a favorable view of Netanyahu.
This may be one reason why a number of Democratic hopefuls – from Beto O’Rourke to Bernie Sanders to Pete Buttigieg – feel comfortable sharply criticizing the premier.
For instance, former Texas congressman O’Rourke minced no words on April 8 – the day before Israel’s election – when he called Netanyahu a “racist” who “wants to defy any prospect for peace as he threatens to annex the West Bank, and who has sided with a far-right, racist party in order to maintain his hold on power.”
Another candidate, Senator Bernie Sanders, also has not hidden his distaste for Netanyahu, saying on April 22 that Israel was “run by a right-wing, you know, dare I say, racist government.” On Election Day, April 9, he said of Netanyahu: “I’m not a great fan of his and, frankly, I hope he loses his election.”
And Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, has also made clear what he thinks of Netanyahu’s policies, though in a less caustic manner.
“Supporting Israel does not have to mean agreeing with Netanyahu’s politics,” Buttigieg said on April 6. “I don’t. This calls for a president willing to counsel our ally against abandoning a two-state solution.”
The Gallup poll numbers indicate that these sentiments may be politically sound for Democratic candidates playing to the party’s Progressive wing, as 46% of the Democrats polled said they had an unfavorable view of the prime minister.
The poll shows that party affiliation is a strong measure of whether Americans like or dislike Netanyahu. While the results show that many Democrats don’t like Netanyahu, Republicans do. Fully 65% of Republicans said they have a favorable opinion of the premier, and only 13% said they do not.
Poll results charting American attitudes toward Israel have shown a consistent trend of much stronger support for Israel among Republicans than Democrats. A Gallup poll in March showed that while 76% of Republicans sympathize more with Israel than the Palestinians, that number among Democrats is 43%. Among those who define themselves as liberal Democrats, only 3% sympathize more with Israel than the Palestinians.
Overall, 40% of Americans in Gallup’s survey conducted from April 17-30 said they have a favorable opinion of Netanyahu, up slightly from the 37% in August, while 27% today have an unfavorable view of him, down two points from 29%. Another 23% said they had never heard of him, and 10% had no opinion.
This poll was taken after Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit recommended in February to indict Netanyahu on fraud, breach of trust and bribery charges, and also after the April 9 elections.
Overall, Netanyahu enjoys higher favorability ratings in the US than Trump, with a Gallup poll showing that while 42% of the US public approves of the way Trump is handling his job, another 52% disapprove.
The question regarding Netanyahu’s favorability was asked in a telephone survey among a random sample of 1,024 adults, and has ±4 percentage point margin of error.
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