The Israel Factor: The Republican presidential candidates

Who does our panel think is the best Republican presidential candidate for Israel?

Mitt Romney 311 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Mitt Romney 311
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Our Israel Factor panel has a solidrecord of preference to middle-of-the-roadcandidates. It was hard for this panel to get comfortable with Barack Obama’scandidacy back in 2008 – he was an unknown and the panel was moreat ease with Hillary Clinton’s candidacy. When it comes to the RepublicanParty candidate, things were not much different: Rudy Giuliani, very familiarto Israelis, and John McCain, also a familiar veteran, were the candidates thispanel preferred – with the unknown and inexperienced novices such as Huckabeeand Romney, the panel was not as comfortable. Their marks and their popularitywith our panel were lower through the 2008 cycle.
But now it’s 2011, and Romney the novice is the morefamiliar face of this Republican election cycle. When the panel was assessinghim against McCain, Romney had a problem. But when he is running againstPawlenty, Huntsman, Bachmann – Romney is suddenly the candidate the panel knowsbest and trusts. And he is the candidate that is getting the highest marks fromthe panel – Giuliani still gets somewhat higher marks, but chances that Hishonor will be running decline by the day.
So Romney is theleading Republican candidate – he is the candidate Republican voterswant - and is also the first choice of The Israel Factor panel. On the“good for Israel”question he got a 7.4 (Giuliani got 7.67). But more importantly, he keepsclimbing in our survey: from 6 back in December of 2010, to 7, to 7.12 and now 7.4.Most other major Republican candidates were doing better two months ago thanthey do in this June survey – another reason to believe that the panel isgetting closer to picking its candidate for the Republican ticket.
Here’s how the panel ranks the Republican field (more namesand numbers in the Complete Statistics page):

Giuliani (not a candidate): 7.67
Romney (first among real candidates): 7.4
Gingrich (declining): 6.83
DeMint (not yet a candidate): 6.5
Perry (will he or won’t he?): 5.8
Santorum (will he drop out before or right after Iowa?): 5.6
Huntsman, Bachmann: 5.5
Bolton, Christie, Pawlenty: 5.4
Johnson: 5.33
Ryan: 4.75
Palin: 3.67
Paul (what can you expect?): 3.17

Three things worth noting:
1. Obama receives a 5.5 in this survey. This means that 6 Republican candidates have better scores than he does on “good for Israel.” This doesn’t mean though that the panel prefers the Republican nominee – it means that those wanting Republicans have stronger feelings regarding the candidates’ approach to Israel.
2. While Obama is the most polarizing candidate – the panelists scored him from 1 to 8 – Romney is the boring one. 7 or 8 are the scores he got from almost all panelists.
3. In fact, there’s one candidate even more polarizing than Obama: If you wonder why John Bolton ranks fairly low – that’s the reason. Some panelists really like him, but others find him totally unfit for the job. Bottom line: In most cases, controversy doesn’t’ work with The Israel Factor.