PREAMBLE: “It all comes down to you,” President Obama said yesterday. “It’s out of my hands now. It’s in yours.”
Indeed it is. Americans have today been making their choice of president, and the results will start to come through soon, as polling stations close and exit polls are published.
Everybody worldwide, not just Americans, it can be argued, has a stake in this election. Israelis certainly feel they do. Facing numerous challenges in a notably unstable region, Israel’s relationship with the United States seems particularly critical right now.
Had Israelis voted, a poll last week asserted, it would have been overwhelmingly for Mitt Romney. A poll released last Thursday found that 45% of Israelis would hypothetically choose Romney, while 29% would choose Obama, and 26% don’t have a preference or don’t care.
Why’s that? A variety of factors may be at play. One that’s often underestimated: Israelis’ gut sense of who empathizes with them more. It’s not a partisan thing. Israelis loved Bill Clinton, and felt George W. Bush understood them pretty well too. They didn’t get that sense from George Bush senior, and may not feel it from Obama — even though he got the rock star treatment when he visited here as a candidate in 2008.
Americans in Israel who actually did vote — by absentee ballot — also plumped strongly for Romney, at least according to the findings of another poll last week. Democrats argued that the survey was skewed, and our article here examines that controversy in depth.
To judge by last month’s final foreign policy presidential debate, Israel was a core foreign policy issue, with both candidates insistently talking up their pro-Israel credentials. For Times of Israel editor David Horovitz, however, “Being fought over by our would-be best friends for the immediate presumed benefit of undecided voters in key swing states” was of no great comfort. “If I were an Iranian leader watching Monday’s debate,” Horovitz wrote, “I would draw the happy conclusion that both these men know the American public is deeply resistant to a resort to force in its name, in anything but the most desperate circumstances.”
In the course of that debate, attacked by Romney for not visiting Israel as president, Obama noted nastily that he’d used his visit as a candidate to go to rocket-battered Sderot and to Yad Vashem rather than for a fundraiser. Romney curiously held his silence, choosing not to mention that he’d toured both on previous visits, as we detailed here.
In more recent days, we’ve written a fair amount about the efforts made to win over the Jewish vote. As we noted in a piece well worth reading from Monday, “Candidates have spent more heavily than ever on outreach to Jews, but it probably hasn’t made much of a difference.”
Also worth a read as the evening develops, this piece on the eleventh-hour effort to get those Jewish voters out to the polls. Did it work? Will it make a difference? We shall see very soon.