Poll: Israelis strongly favor Clinton over Trump

Story highlights

  • The findings run counter to a recent trend
  • Israelis believe Clinton would put more pressure on them for peace talks

Jerusalem (CNN)Almost twice as many Israelis prefer Hillary Clinton to Donald Trump, bucking the recent trend of Republican presidential candidates winning more support than Democrats, according to a new poll.

When asked which candidate they preferred, 42% of Israelis said Clinton, compared with 24% who cited Trump, a survey from the Israel Democracy Institute found. Another 13% said the candidates are the same from Israel's perspective.
    The poll results represent a change from recent cycles in which Israelis have favored GOP candidates.
    In fact, Israelis haven't preferred a Democrat in the White House since 2000, said Shmuel Rosner, author of "The Jewish Vote: Obama vs. Romney: A Voter's Guide."
    "Clinton is a well-known commodity in Israel. Bill Clinton, up until today, according to several polls, is considered by Israelis to be the most friendly US president ever towards Israel," Rosner said.
    "So they (pollsters) say the name Clinton and it rings familiar," he added. "They assume that if Bill Clinton was such a friendly president to Israel, then his wife must be friendly as well."
    The survey included Arab-Israelis and found the percentage who favor Trump is much lower than among Jewish Israelis. Only 11% of the Arabs surveyed believe he would be preferable, compared with 27% of Jews.
    Trump has had problems attracting the Jewish vote in the US after claims of anti-Semitic themes in various tweets and the backing he's received from the former head of the KKK, David Duke, and the American Nazi Party. A report this week by the Anti-Defamation League also found nearly 20,000 anti-Semitic tweets have been directed at more than 800 journalists since the campaign began, often because those journalists voiced critical opinions about Trump.
    Rosner said "predictability" is a key factor for why Israelis prefer Clinton.
    "Predictability is an essential quality of a US presidential candidate," he said. "(Israelis) would like to know that the president is going to follow pretty much mainstream, friendly policy toward Israel. In Trump, they see an unpredictable future president -- someone who they cannot be sure will be friendly towards Israel as previous presidents. In the choice between reliability and opportunity, Israelis will go for reliability."
    Israelis prefer Clinton even though they believe she will put more pressure on the Israeli government, according to the Democracy Institute poll.
    When asked which candidate would more heavily pressure the Israeli government to renew peace talks with the Palestinians, 57% said Clinton, while only 7% believed Trump would lean more on the Israeli government.
    "The evaluation that she will pressure Israel can be interpreted two ways: The one is positive from the left and center from those that want pressure to be exerted on Israel," said Tamar Hermann, senior fellow at the Israel Democracy Institute and academic director of the Gutmann Center for Public Opinion and Policy Research. "The second, from the right, is from those that are afraid of this pressure."
    Rosner added, "There are quite a few Israelis who do not support the current policies of the government, and for them, some American pressure on the government does not seem a terrible idea. As for the voters of the (Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu coalition ... they prefer the known path of some pressure on Israel than the unknown path" of Trump.
    Israel has 200,000 eligible American voters, according to the non-partisan organization IVoteIsrael, which registers American Israelis to vote.
    The survey, conducted between October 5-9, included a total of 600 Israeli and Arab-Israeli respondents over the age of 18. The survey did not differentiate between Israelis, who cannot vote in the US election, and American-Israelis, who can vote. The margin of error is +/-4.1%.