A Gallup Poll out on Friday on the eve of Mitt Romney's visit to Israel shows the presumptive Republican nominee losing ground to Barack Obama among Jewish voters and that Republicans like Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a lot more than Democrats do.
"Americans have a more positive (35%) than negative (23%) view of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu," according to the latest survey. Those overall numbers are largely unchanged since the last poll in May 1999, although the Israeli leader's standing among Republicans has risen while dropping among Democrats.
Republicans have a more positive view of Netanyahu (50% favorable vs. 16% unfavorable) while Democrats are more negative (31% unfavorable vs. 25% favorable). Independents are also negative but by narrower margins.
"Democrats tend to view him more negatively than positively, perhaps due to his ideological leanings but also his recent disagreements with President Obama," according to Gallup. Some Israeli journalists have dubbed Netanyahu the Republican senator from Israel.
The new survey – taken in early July — shows a four-point improvement in Obama's lead over Romney among Jewish Americans. They showed Obama leading by 68 percent to 25 percent, with seven percent undecided. That is an improvement for Obama from May when the split was 64-29.
By comparison, four years ago, in April 2008, Obama's lead over John McCain, the GOP nominee, was 61-to-32. He went on to win by 78-22 in November.
Both candidates have been devoting a great deal of money and effort courting Jewish support, and Romney's Middle East trip is a high profile effort to woo voters and raise money. For Romney there is the added factor of appealing to evangelical voters, who tend to be strong supporters of Israel but are also social conservatives and, while some are skeptical about Romney, a Mormon, they are largely lost to Obama.
The National Jewish Democratic Council said the poll's upward trend shows "the more American Jews get to know Mitt Romney, the less they like him and the more they support Obama."