Opinions On Netanyahu's Speech Split Along Party Lines

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C) talks with congressional leadership on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, March 3,
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C) talks with congressional leadership on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, March 3, 2014. AFP PHOTO / Jim WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

Americans think that it was a breach of protocol for House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to invite Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak to Congress, but they still want members of Congress to attend his speech, a HuffPost/YouGov poll finds.

In the survey, Americans say by a 23-point margin that it's inappropriate for a member of Congress to invite a foreign leader to speak in the U.S. without first consulting with the White House, and by a 17-point margin that Boehner's invitation to Netanyahu, specifically, was inappropriate. In both cases, about a quarter of Americans said they weren't sure.

Despite disagreeing with the handling of the invitation, though, Americans were also more likely than not to say U.S. politicians should still meet with Netanyahu during his trip.

Forty-six percent said that their member of Congress should attend Netanyahu's speech, which is scheduled for March 3, while just 24 percent said they shouldn't, with another 30 percent unsure. Fifty-eight percent said President Barack Obama should meet with Netanyahu, with only 19 percent opposed and 23 percent not sure.

The White House announced in January that Obama will not meet with Netanyahu during the visit, citing the upcoming Israeli elections.

A number of Democrats in Congress have said they will skip the Israeli prime minister's speech. Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) told The Huffington Post on Tuesday that he and more than 20 other members of Congress had signed a letter to Boehner urging him to postpone the speech until U.S. diplomatic negotiations with Iran are complete.

The public's opinions on the whole debate were also partisan, with Democrats far more likely than Republicans to find the invitation inappropriate. While Democrats are 9 points more likely than not to say their representative should avoid the Netanyahu speech, Republicans say by a 9-point margin that their representative should attend.

Chart created using Datawrapper

The public is about evenly divided on whether Obama or congressional Republicans do a better job of handling U.S.-Israel relations, with 24 percent naming Obama, 26 percent the GOP, and the other 50 percent unsure or saying neither is better.

Republicans, though, are more likely to stand behind their party's performance. While just 3 percent in each party named the other party as doing a better job, Democrats were more likely to say neither was better or to be unsure. Sixty-three percent in the GOP said congressional Republicans do a better job of handling relations, and just 49 percent of Democrats said the same of Obama.

The HuffPost/YouGov poll consisted of 1,000 completed interviews conducted Feb. 4-8 among U.S. adults using a sample selected from YouGov's opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population.

The Huffington Post has teamed up with YouGov to conduct daily opinion polls. You can learn more about this project and take part in YouGov's nationally representative opinion polling. Data from all HuffPost/YouGov polls can be found here. More details on the poll's methodology are available here.

Most surveys report a margin of error that represents some, but not all, potential survey errors. YouGov's reports include a model-based margin of error, which rests on a specific set of statistical assumptions about the selected sample, rather than the standard methodology for random probability sampling. If these assumptions are wrong, the model-based margin of error may also be inaccurate. Click here for a more detailed explanation of the model-based margin of error.



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