51% of Christians in survey say violence in the Middle East signifies the end of times is near

1 in 3 Americans unhappy with Israeli influence on US politics

Poll finds 34% of Democratic voters hold an unfavorable view of Netanyahu, compared to 51% of Republicans who have positive opinion of PM

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks about Iran during a joint meeting of the United States Congress in the House chamber at the US Capitol on March 3, 2015 in Washington, DC. (Win McNamee/Getty Images/AFP)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks about Iran during a joint meeting of the United States Congress in the House chamber at the US Capitol on March 3, 2015 in Washington, DC. (Win McNamee/Getty Images/AFP)

A new poll by the Brookings Institution published Friday showed significant disapproval in the US over the perceived influence Israel has on American politics, as well as an overall decrease in support for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his government’s policies.

According to the survey, which weighted respondents based on US Census data, 37 percent of Americans said they believed the Israeli government had too much influence on US politics, while 18% posited that the Jewish state had too little sway on American political discourse. Meanwhile, 44% said Israeli influence on US politics was at the right level.

Among respondents who affiliate with the Democratic party, close to half expressed concern over perceived Israeli leverage on US politicians (49%), and only 14% said the Jewish state was not influential enough. Republican voters were more sympathetic to Israel in this regard, with 25% of respondents saying Israel had too much influence, 22% saying not enough, and 52% saying the current level of influence was at their desired rate.

The poll placed Netanyahu at third on a list of five most admired world leaders, trailing at 6% behind President Barack Obama (16%) and former president Ronald Reagan (7%). Thirty-four percent of self-identified Democratic voters held an unfavorable view of Netanyahu, compared to 22% in 2014, and 18% said they had a positive opinion of the Israeli prime minister, down from 25% in the previous year. The results among Republican party affiliates were 13% negative opinion, up from 9% in 2014, and a whopping 51% who said they viewed Netanyahu favorably, compared to 49% last year.

Twenty-six percent of those polled said they gave serious weight to a potential candidate’s stance towards Israel when deciding how to cast their vote in the upcoming election; 33% said they considered views on the Jewish state somewhat important, 19% said it mattered just a little and 21% said not at all. Broken down along party lines, 40% of Republican-affiliated respondents said they gave heavy weight to stances on Israel when considering a presidential candidate, compared to 14% among Democrats.

When asked about the appropriate response to Israeli settlement building in the West Bank, 31% recommended America limit its opposition to words, 27% said the US should do nothing, 27% recommended economic sanctions, and 10% said the US must take more serious action, the poll found.

The survey was conducted between November 4 and November 10, 2015, among a total of 1,738 panelists, including 1,074 individuals who identified as Evangelicals or born-again Christians, the Brookings Institution reported.

According to the Institution, responses were weighted by age, gender, income, education, race and geographic region. The survey was also weighted by partisan identification, and Evangelical and Born-again Christians were down-weighted, so that they represented 24% of the national sample for the survey.

Among respondents who identified as Christian, the poll found that 45% said they viewed current day Jews as “God’s chosen people as described in the Bible,” 51% agreed that violence in the Middle East signified that the end of times was near and 54% thought that world events will turn against Israel as the end of times near. An equal amount said it was essential Israel control all areas the Bible designates for the ancient Israelites in order for a Second Coming of Jesus to become a reality.

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