Since he addressed a joint session of Congress last week in a speech that spurred controversy, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s standing among Democratic American voters has fallen while Republicans’ views of him were unchanged, according to a new Gallup poll. Before the speech, Netanyahu’s 45 percent favorable rating was among the highest during his tenure, and now it sits at 38 percent.
In his March 3 speech, Netanyahu warned the U.S. about the dangers of agreeing to a nuclear deal with Iran, a country he said couldn’t be trusted and contended could still develop a nuclear weapon despite the agreement. He likened Tehran to the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS or ISIL, and said an agreement with Iran would be “a very bad deal.”
Democratic lawmakers were incensed both over the invitation by House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, to have Netanyahu speak without consulting the White House, and the content of Israeli prime minister’s speech, accusing him of using a condescending tone and lecturing Congress about a subject they already knew about.
Republicans' views of Netanyahu were stable after his speech, with 62 percent giving the Israeli prime minister a favorable rating and 16 percent giving him an unfavorable rating. In February, Netanyahu’s standing among Republicans was 60 percent favorable and 17 percent unfavorable.
But his numbers among Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters took a sharp dive. Before the speech, an equal number -- 32 percent -- viewed Netanyahu both favorably and unfavorably.
The new poll showed only 17 percent of such voters had a favorable opinion of Netanyahu while 46 percent said they had an unfavorable view. Voters in Israel will head to the polls next week for elections to decide whether Netanyahu’s Likud party stays in power. If the party does so, Netanyahu’s visit to the U.S. last week “may be one more event that contributed to increasing U.S.-Israeli tensions under the Obama and Netanyahu administrations, or may be relegated to a small footnote in the history of U.S.-Israel relations if a new government is selected,” according to Gallup.