Netanyahu Most Popular World Leader Among Evangelical Christians in US

“…and there was not among the children of Israel a goodlier person than he: from his shoulders and upward he was higher than any of the people.” (1 Samuel 9:2)

A new Brookings Institution survey, conducted last month, shows Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is overall the third-most admired world leader among Americans. The survey, the results of which were released Friday, examined the attitude of Americans regarding Israel and the Middle East.

Opinions varied significantly among different groups, with those identifying as Republicans or Evangelical Christians expressing a far more favorable opinion of Netanyahu than Democrats. In fact, among Evangelicals, Netanyahu was the most mentioned name in an open-ended question. Meanwhile, two in three Democrats expressed disappointment in the Israeli leader.

“While Republicans overall have much more favorable views of Netanyahu than unfavorable ones, Democrats have a more unfavorable view of the Israeli leader by a ratio of about two to one. In general, older Americans admire the Israeli leader far more than the younger ones,” a Brookings report on the poll results, cited by Haaretz, stated.

“Netanyahu’s unfavorable ratings among Democrats have risen substantially from a year ago from 22 percent to 34 percent; in comparison, favorable views of Netanyahu among Republicans stayed within the margin of error of last year’s results from (51 percent compared to 49 percent in 2014) while unfavorable views increased slightly from 9 percent to 13 percent.”

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Overall, Netanyahu placed third on a list of five most admired world leaders, with 6 percent approval, trailing behind US President Barack Obama (16 percent) and former president Ronald Reagan (7 percent). Pope Francis and Russian President Vladimir Putin rounded out the list at fourth and fifth respectively.

Another question asked respondents to assess how much sway Israel had over US politics. 37 percent of Americans said they believed the Israeli government had too much influence, while 18 percent felt the Jewish state had too little sway on American political discourse. Meanwhile, 44 percent were satisfied with the influence Israel holds over American politics.

26 percent of respondents said they seriously consider a candidate’s position on Israel in determining their own voting stance, while 33 percent said it played some role. Only 19 percent of respondents said a candidate’s stance on the Jewish state made no difference to their them when voting.

Regarding the US approach to Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria, 31 percent recommended limiting its opposition to words, 27 percent said nothing should be done, 27 percent recommended economic sanctions, and 10 percent said the US must take more serious action, the poll found.

1,738 panelists completed the survey, including a national sample of 875 adults, plus an oversample of 863 self-identified Evangelical or born-again Christians, making for a total sample of Evangelicals/born-again Christians of 1,074. The results were then weighted in accordance with US Census benchmarks.