So what happened in the past month to put Obama slightly ahead? Two things:
Romney's visit to Israel, probably more acceptable to most Israelis than to our panel, was somewhat problematic in the mainstream expert view. Romney was playing politics — while the experts prefer policy driven statements, comments and actions. We asked one panelist why his vote for Obama went down from 9 to 8, and the visit was the reason. The "Palestinian culture" statement, and generally, the "turning of Israel into a wedge issue" didn't make this panelist (who still favors Romney over Obama) happy.
Obama's seemingly tough position on the Iranian issue is making a difference. We've argued many times that Iran is the most revealing issue on which many Israelis — our panel included - look at the candidates and how "good" they are on Israel. We dedicated a long question to Iran in this survey, supplying the panel with statements to rank from totally disagree (1) to totally agree (10). Look at these two statements and how the panel rated them:
Obama will use force against Iran if diplomacy doesn't work: 6.44
If elected, Romney will use force against Iran if diplomacy doesn't work: 6.11
In other words: disregarding Romney's implied claim that he will be tougher than Obama on Iran — that he is more likely to use force against Tehran's leaders — the panel ranks Obama higher on this specific issue of using force. The panel sees in Obama the determination to stop Iran by all available means. And while the difference between Obama and Romney on this question is not great, it even gives Obama a little more credit than it does Romney.
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