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Spinning the Jewish Vote

A bruising election keeps bruising

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A little more than 12 hours after the American election, the battle to spin how the Jewish vote had gone was a’raging. J Street and the Republican Jewish Coalition released polling data citing that the President had scored between 69-70% of the American Jewish vote. The Republican Jewish Coalition declared a victory saying that it had dropped President Obama from 78% in 2008 to 69%, the results of roughly $8 million spent by the RJC and an affiliated Super PAC in targeted ads, videoes, and robocalls.

“We’ve increased our share of the Jewish vote by almost 50 percent,” RJC Director Matt Brooks said in a conference call, referencing John McCain’s less-than-stellar 22% showing.

Brooks went on the explain that more Jewish voters had turned out to vote for Republican presidential candidates in five of the last six elections since 1992, although considering that Bush 41 infamously had a secretary of state that uttered “F*ck the Jews,” the basement was pretty low. Brooks also conceded that 2008 was a setback for Jewish voters and the GOP.

Just one hour earlier, J Street’s conference call on the Jewish vote presented different conclusions. First it lowered President Obama’s total among Jewish voters from 78% to 74% citing data from the Solomon Project as a more accurate representation than the initial exit polls in 2008. Even if that number is more accurate, it seems defeatist for pro-Obama forces to cite it now. The J Street data also sought to lump President Obama’s decline in Jewish votes as consistent with a drop among most constituencies including whites and Catholics and his overall drop from 53% to 50% in the popular vote.

An illuminating example of how the narratives diverge rests in the data about Israel. The RJC pushed the idea that 77% of Jewish respondents said Israel was an important issue to them. Of course, it’s difficult to imagine that the vast majority of Jewish voters wouldn’t say that. In the J Street survey, when Jewish voters were asked what the most important issues were in the election, only 10% of respondents mentioned Israel in their top two (with another 2% saying Iran). Where the RJC was too specific, J Street was too vague.

One comment made by pollster Jim Gerstein, who ran the J Street polling, did strike me as true in explaining why Democrats still maintain broad Jewish support in America.

For Jewish voters, Israel is a threshold voting issue; once candidates demonstrate that they are supportive of Israel, voters move on to consider other issues that more directly affect their daily lives.”

It’s impossible to envision Jewish voters standing firmly behind any candidate that is hostile to Israel. The efficacy of presenting President Obama as a bad candidate for Israel seems to have been what we were really fighting about all this time. Was it worth it?

Fighting Over Every Percentile
Jewish Support for Obama Slipped, But Still Strong

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Lynne T says:

More likely the switch-over to Romney arises from the continued weakness in the economy, with some concern that Obama cannot be trusted on a nuclear weaponized Iran. But hell, RJC needs a rational to put the squeeze on donors in the mid-terms, don’t they?
And while I am not much of an Obama fan, I have to say that to some extent, by being seen to be holding himself a little more distant from Israel, may be a strategy that would put Obama in a better position to sell a war weary nation on an intervention that would serve the interests of most of Iran’s neighbours, not just Israell.

    Pam Green says:

    How anti-Semitic you are, calling out the rich-Jew stereotype! Or is it just cynicism? Fear over Iran is stimulated in order to hit up Jewish donors in 2014? And the only Jews who switched to Romney were worried about their finances! Btw, it’s ‘rationale’ not ‘rational’ – a distinction you really should try to remember.

      Lynne T says:

      You’re confusing me with Yevka. (ie: I’m more than a bit of a cynic when it comes to political bagmen whichever party they represent.) And thanks for the spelling correction.

        Pam Green says:

        Yevka would never write a 65-word sentence, even with grammatical mistakes, so you’re safe there.

I think you may have the “vague” and “specific” tags reversed. Yes, if you ask American Jews whether a candidates’s position on Israel is important to them — vaguely, without seeking prioritization — it seems reasonable that about 3 in 4 to say yes. But when you ask — specifically — if the issue rises to their top two in terms of importance it seems about right that only 1 in 10 will put it there. Of course neither question discerns WHAT the position should be and I would venture to say that here in Oregon a significant but growing minority of Jews are more in tune with Obama’s approach than the Republican hard line.

Poupic says:

Of course it was worth fighting to vote to replace anti- Semite Obama. How can a Jew vote for an anti- Semite? It is possible since American Jews voted for Roosevelt even though he closed the doors to Jews during the Shoa and the horrible St. Louis that sailed back to burn it’s cargo of Jews. Jews then vote for their local concern vs. 6,000,000 Jews exterminated. You think it is harsh? US Jews again like their parents and grand parents voted for anti- Semite Obama even though Iran is sharpening it’s modern knife, a nuclear bomb destined for yet again 6,000,000 Jews concentrated in Israel. Hilary called The Muslim Brotherhood “MODERATE!” If you think this nothing, a who cares? Great! Make a search for Hassan el Banna the creator of the MB. Then come back and tell us that this brotherhood is moderate! The Obama administration is a re do of the Roosevelt administration and US Jews voted for it in Great numbers. They make me sick!

    hypnosifl says:

    Obama, unlike Roosevelt, is not turning his back on Jews in need of shelter against ongoing attacks against them; you just don’t think he’s sufficiently hawkish about preventing possible future threats. But Obama has imposed just about the harshest possible economic sanctions on Iran, which have crippled its economy and created a lot of unrest in its population. Nor has he ruled out military strikes if Iran is actually close to having a working bomb (intelligence on their progress is supposed to be pretty good, Iran is supposed to be at least two years away from having a deliverable nuclear weapon). And plenty of Jews, including many in Israel (like the former Shin Bet chief Ami Ayalon), don’t think rushing into a preemptive war is the answer either; is anyone who disagrees with you about the best policy response to Iran’s nuclear program (including Ami Ayalon) an “anti-semite”, in your eyes? By using that slur for anyone who disagrees with you about this policy question, rather than using it to describe people who actually hate Jews, you dilute its meaning.

      Poupic says:

      Well, at least one US Jew agrees with me about Roosevelt anti- Semitism. We are making progress! War or no war is not the reason Obama is an anti- Semite. In 2004 I was a Democrat. I heard Obama’s speech at the convention. Right there I wanted him to run in years to come. When the Presidential campaign of 2008 arrived I already learned the horrible truth that “Wright was my spiritual mentor who married me, baptized my daughters, gave me the title of my book..” for twenty years. He volunteered for the million men march when Farrakhan every anti- Semitic rant was live on TV with multitudes cheering wildly. His associates who were anti- Semites were numerous then, such as Rashid Khalidi. Obama stopped his mantra “He married me, baptized my daughters…” when Wright live on TV said: “Them Jews won’t let e see Obama!” He also separated from Wright totally because it did not fit his image. That is when he made his prepared speech on race. Clinton’s and the Republicans were like deer in the headlight and said nothing. They still are. Romney let spit run down his face as if it was a morning rain never mentioning Obama’s past. By the way I left the Democratic party when I discovered that it is infested with anti- Semitism. We all saw “Jerusalem is the capital of Israel” responded with a universal deafening NO! that still resonate in my ears. “The 1967 line” of course includes part of Jerusalem to be taken away from the Jewish state according to anti- Semite Obama and the Democratic party. For the first time in 3,000 years Jews will have to say “Next year in Al Qutz” instead to the traditional “Next year in Jerusalem.

      This why we should all know that Obama like Roosevelt is an anti- Semite, not because he goes to war or not stupid straw man. Even if he had made he trains run on time and he didn’t in his first 4 years Jews should not have voted nor given funds for his re election.

Only an idiot would say that Pres. Obama getting 69-70% of the Jewish vote is a not a victory among Jews. Considering the vicious and blatently false attacks on the President, I am surprised it was that high. And Mr. (or Ms.) Poupic, just admit it. You are a racist, clear and simple. Your diatribe is full of inaccuracies and misleading statements. And if Jews make you sick as you say, maybe it is you who are an anti-semite.

    Pam Green says:

    Pro-Obama Jewish readers on this site have been far more vicious than the Republicans. The Jewish Democrats are the ones who have left blatantly insulting, false and misleading comments on these threads. Calling people racist just because they’re anti-Obama is the typical fallback argument of Jewish liberals who haven’t bothered to stay informed or really think about Obama’s policies in the Mideast. As for Poupic, can’t you read? He is a Holocaust survivor. Doesn’t that mean anything to you?

If the safety of Israel was in any way a priority you voted for Romney. Sadly, for 70% of my felllow Jews they just don’t care about the survival of Israel anymore.

    oaklandj says:

    Still trotting out that old chestnut? No one except those in the right-wing bubble believe that tripe.

      Pam Green says:

      How can you be so blind? Oh, I know! Because the only pundits you read are diehard leftists, and you haven’t really considered the alarming changes in the ME caused by Obama over the past four years.

Actually, I have a theory I haven’t heard yet: assimilation. As Jews become more like other Americans, our vote will converge to the American mean. The old socialist-Russian-immigrant-vote-against-the-czar culture becomes more distant with every year (and modern Russian immigrants have negative memories of Communism instead).

jacob_arnon says:

“It’s impossible to envision Jewish voters standing firmly behind any candidate that is hostile to Israel. The efficacy of presenting President Obama as a bad candidate for Israel seems to have been what we were really fighting about all this time. Was it worth it?”

Exactly right. Both presidential candidates were pro Israel.

I voted for Obama because I trusted him on economic and social issues more than I did Romney.


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Spinning the Jewish Vote

A bruising election keeps bruising

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