For most Israelis Hillary Clinton is the safest bet – it’s based on ‘Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t!’ The roller-coaster polls have switched back to Hillary while the Israeli media have sent their star reporters to cover, some with baited breath, the latest ups and downs in the two rival camps. ‘Israel Today’, the freebie newspaper, that backs Bibi and is financed by American casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson, is beating the drums for Trump. However, Netanyahu has remained neutral and has also ordered his cabinet ministers to do the same when it comes to supporting Clinton or Trump. This also applies to the rest of the political parties. After his feud with Democratic President Barack Obama, and his Adelson connection, it is probable that Bibi is pulling for Trump. But barring some unexpected bombshell, I’m sticking with the prediction of my twelve-year old grandson Ariel who is pretty good at Math. The other day, when the polls indicated that Trump was leading Clinton, Ariel asked me how Trump could possibly win?
Fifty percent of the American voters are women, and most of them won’t vote for Trump but for Clinton. Of the remaining fifty percent of the male voters, there is a big number of Blacks and Hispanics who will not vote for Trump. So Trump will need a huge number of white male voters to vote for him, making it almost impossible for him to win.
This Math sounds reasonable but there is another factor; America’s unique and rather cock-eyed voting system. Who will become President is not decided by which candidate garners the most votes nation-wide but the total of electoral votes from each state where she/he wins a majority of the popular vote. That’s where it gets very tricky – like when Democrat Al Gore got more of the popular votes nation-wide, but Republican George Bush took the states with more electoral votes. This is where the outcome can be razor thin like it did in Florida in the race between Republican George Bush and Democrat Al Gore in 2000.
Having said that, enter Israeli expert Dr Eitan Gilboa who pointed out that 100,000 Israelis are entitled to vote and many of them come from Florida which is again a key electoral state where every vote may count as it did before. In 2000, Bush won by a slim margin of only 537 individual votes which gained him all of Florida’s twenty-nine electoral votes to win victory for the Republican in the electoral college.
And the big question on everyone’s mind is will Obama get even with Bibi after the election by clobbering Israel in the UN Security council – say, by not casting the US veto to block a pro-Palestinian resolution. Or maybe by presenting his own peace plan, one that Netanyahu would abhor. There is also the huge American security aid package just granted to Israel – could Obama tie some strings to it? In his address opening the new Knesset session last week, Israel’s Prime Minister called on Obama not to adopt any surprising steps that would dismay Jerusalem.