30 October 2008 - Americans in Israel back McCain
Early reports from exit polling among absentee voters indicate that Americans in Israel back John McCain over Barack Obama by a staggering 3-to-1 margin.
Even more astounding, if these exit polls are to be believed, is the fact that nearly half of all registered American Democrats in Israel are crossing over to vote McCain.
Within the last hour, the first exit poll of 817 Americans in Israel, who attended U.S. election voting events in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv on Tuesday evening to vote by absentee ballot, has been released.
A startling 76 percent of those polled said that they had voted for John McCain. This contrasts sharply with pre-election polls of American Jews in the U.S., which indicate a strong preference for Obama.
The exit poll findings of American voters in Israel are all the more surprising because less than one in four were registered Republicans, and 46% of registered Democrats living in Israel said they had crossed party lines to vote McCain. By contrast, the Republican crossover to Obama was minimal – just 2%.
The votes are significant as almost half of the 42,000 registered U.S. voters living in Israel come from key swing states including Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
In the 2000 and 2004 elections, Israel had the third-largest group of American voters abroad, after Canada and Britain.
The exit poll was commissioned by Votefromisrael.org, an independent, non-partisan organization dedicated to promoting voter registration and participation amongst American citizens living in Israel.
The ynet poll earlier this week that showed McCain with a 12-point advantage among Israelis seems to have underestimated support for McCain in Israel by a wide margin.
On a related point: Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud Party is now even with Tzipi Livni's Kadima in the first Israeli polls that anticipate the election that will be held on February 10, 2009. If the election were held today, Netanyahu could probably form a right-wing coalition with a slim majority.
Netanyahu has been telling Israelis that if Obama becomes the US president, he is the only one who can stand up to American pressure to make unreasonable concessions.
As Obama's fortunes have risen in the US, Netanyahu's poll numbers have risen. The Ha'aretz panel of experts predicted months ago that this was the worst possible combination of events.
I'm not sure I agree--Netanyahu can't be that much worse than the current incumbents have been--but left-leaning American Jews who back Obama might want to consider the degree to which they are helping the Israeli right.