Presidential Polls 2012: Why Voters in Israel Could Give a Huge Boost to Romney in Swing States

According to the iVoteIsrael campaign group which seeks to maximize voter turnout, an overwhelming majority of Israelis that are eligible to vote in next Tuesday’s presidential election have cast their ballot for Republican candidate Mitt Romney.

Eighty-five percent of the 80,000 American-Israelis who registered to vote through iVoteIsrael backed the Republican candidate the survey indicated. The organization has claimed that in current too-close-to-call swing states, expatriate voters from Israel could make the difference. In Florida for example, approximately 7,500 Israelis are registered to vote and around 3,500 are likely to be voting in Ohio.

The poll however has been criticized by the Democrats Abroad in Israel who have dismissed the poll as "slanted and extremely partial" because the surveys were carried out at polling stations set up by iVoteIsrael. The acting chairman of Democrats Abroad in Israel, Hillel Schenker, told the Israel newspaper Haaretz: "All they’re doing is providing information about the people they polled at their polling stations, in places where there are predominantly Orthodox and rightwing Jews."

The campaign group responded stating that it is non-partisan and that it is primarily working to maximize the vote, reflecting the fact that it is essentially not a professional polling company. Therefore, how much can this poll be trusted?

A strong favoring of Romney by American-Israelis is certainly a possibility, especially given speculation that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would favor a Romney victory next Tuesday. Israel-U.S. relations have been somewhat strained under Obama in the past year over the issue of the Iranian nuclear programme. For Netanyahu, Romney would be a better ally over the issue as he is perceived to be more sympathetic to the Israeli prime minister’s view that military action must be taken to halt the problem.

Since the start of the presidential race, Romney has consistently criticized Obama for allegedly failing to maintain traditionally close U.S.-Israel relations, which will have undoubtedly been heard by eligible voters in Israel. In a recent poll carried out by the Maagar Mochot polling company for Bar-Ilan University on Israeli attitudes towards America, 93% agreed that the close relationship with the U.S. was crucial for Israel’s security. Given the belief that Iran currently poses a serious security threat, Romney may well be a viable alternative for president for those in Israel wanting to maintain the strong U.S.-Israel security partnership.

Even if the 85% polling result favouring Romney translates into actual votes, American-Israelis make up only a small proportion of the vast American electorate meaning Romney will need to convince a lot more people in America to win next Tuesday's election. 

How much do you trust the information in this article?

Rebecca McCartney

Rebecca is currently working at the Tim Parry Jonathan Ball Foundation for Peace in the UK. She specialises and focuses on foreign and security issues.

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