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.
SARKOZY: OBAMA’S STANCE ON IRAN IS “UTTERLY IMMATURE”
More than half of the respondents listed foreign policy (including Israel and Iran policy) as the most important factor influencing their vote.
Separately, in a poll for the country’s largest newspaper, Yediot Ahronot, most Israelis in general (not just Americans living in Israel) said they would prefer McCain because they are concerned about the anti-Israeli positions of many of the people Barack Obama has appointed to advise him on foreign policy, and because – in the words of French President Nicolas Sarkozy as quoted in Tuesday’s Ha’aretz newspaper – Obama’s stance on Iran is “utterly immature” and comprised of “formulations empty of all content.”
In most countries, according to opinion polls, if the local populations had a vote in next week’s American elections, they would choose Obama over McCain.
Among the exceptions (where McCain would win) are Israel, Iraq, Georgia and the Philippines (all countries that have had to cope with terrorism).