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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy conference in Washington, D.C., on March 2, 2015. (NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

With Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s much-talked about speech to Congress about Iran’s nuclear threat happening today at 11 a.m., and much of the country’s political leadership divided over its usefulness and appropriateness, a new poll shows something altogether surprising given the tense atmosphere surrounding the address: Netanyahu’s favorability ratings are up among Americans.

According to the Gallup poll, published yesterday in anticipation of The Speech, 45 percent of Americans view Netanyahu favorably, as compared to 24 percent who view him unfavorably—a sizable increase from 2012, when his favorability rate was 35 percent. “His current favorable rating ties his highest rating among the six times Gallup has measured it, spanning his three tenures as prime minister,” the poll reports.

While those surveyed were asked broadly about Netanyahu and not specifically about the speech, the increased favorability ratings suggest that perhaps the Israeli prime minister isn’t seen as negatively as the political fallout of The Speech would suggest. (It also suggests that in the aftermath of the 2014 Gaza war, public opinion of Israel hasn’t decreased substantially.) The poll concludes, “But even if Netanyahu has seen his relationship with the White House deteriorate, it appears to have had no impact on his standing with the American people.”

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Notably, while the Republican/Democrat favorability divide remains stark—60 percent of Republicans find Netanyahu favorable, compared to 31 percent of Democrats—scores are up for both groups since 2012.

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With hours until Netanyahu’s address—guaranteed to be a major political moment—the poll’s results may show that this is ultimately all about politics. Stay tuned to the Scroll for more on The Speech throughout the day.

Previous: Bibi’s Day in Congress
Related: The Obama-Bibi Split Is About Policy, Not Protocol—And It May Be Permanent





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