Clinton easily beats Obama... in Israel

If you're a Hillary supporter, you have to regret there is no presidential primary in Israel.

Clinton obama fab 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
Clinton obama fab 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
If you're a Hillary Clinton supporter, you have to regret there is no Democratic presidential primary in Israel. For if there were, according to a poll released on Thursday, Clinton would thrash Barack Obama. Sixty-one percent of the Jewish Israeli public supports Clinton as the Democratic candidate, while only 12% want to see Obama get the party's nomination, according to the survey carried out by Keevoon Research, Strategy & Communication. Twenty-seven percent of those asked who they support as the Democratic candidate had no opinion. This poll of Israeli Jews' preference in the hotly contested primary race contrasts starkly with a Gallup poll this week of American Jewish voters, in which Clinton and Obama were locked in a statistical dead heat. In that poll, 48% favored Clinton, and 43% preferred Obama, with a 6% margin of error. Mitchell Barak, the managing director of Keevoon, said his poll indicated that Obama had made very little impression on Israelis. "Clinton has been here many times with her husband, and also as a senator," he said, explaining the New York senator's popularity in Israel. "Israelis know and like the Clintons. They had eight years of Bill Clinton, and also Hillary, and are familiar with her; she has been a steadfast supporter." The Obama wave, he said, had not caught on with Israelis, even though they were following the campaign closely. Ann Lewis, a senior adviser to Clinton who deals widely with the Jewish community, said the poll showed that "the people of Israel know that Hillary Clinton has been and will continue to be a strong and reliable friend." "We are pleased by this recognition of Hillary's consistent record of leadership on behalf of a strong US-Israel relationship: from the days when she worked to bring a program for pre-school children developed in Israel to the United States, to her effective advocacy in the United States Senate," Lewis said. The Obama campaign had no official comment on the poll. But one aide did tell The Jerusalem Post, "As much as we respect Israeli's opinions, they are not always following the details of the race as closely as American Jews, who after all, are the ones who get to vote." Barak noted that 27% not registering an opinion was an unusually high number for an Israeli poll. He attributed this to two factors: some of the respondents may favor Republican candidate John McCain and not care who the Democrats put up, and some may see this as an internal US party issue, and don't feel they have the tools to give an opinion. As in the US, Obama's greatest strength in the Israeli poll was among younger voters, with 26% of 18-24 olds preferring him as the candidate. Clinton's support falls among Orthodox and haredi Israelis, with only 45% and 39%, respectively, supporting her. Among both groups, the undecided numbers shoot even higher, at 36% in the Orthodox community and 55% among haredim. Barak said the lower level of support in these groups could have something to do with the Clintons' identification for, and support of, the Oslo process and territorial concessions. The poll was conducted by phone on March 25-26 among 503 Hebrew-speaking Israelis in the Jewish sector, and has a 4.5% margin of error. Hilary Leila Krieger contributed to this report.