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Obama and the Jews

Has he lost support over Israel?

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President Obama last week.(Darren Hauck/Getty Images)

Over the weekend, New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow considered the recent Pew finding that 33 percent of American Jews identify with or lean toward the Republican Party, which is significantly higher than in 2008 and 2006. Blow concludes that President Obama has alienated some members of this constituency by “having taken a hard rhetorical stance with Israel, while taking ‘special time and care on our relationship with the Muslim world,’ as Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, put it in June.” It is a pretty sloppy column: There are several problems with it, the chief one being that it fails to mention that this is an unusually Republican year overall, and the only weird thing would be if that weren’t reflected in the (still overwhelmingly Democratic) Jewish numbers.

Eric Alterman has a nice response:

Barack Obama, like pretty much every Democrat before him, remains more popular with Jews than with just about any other ethnic group in America, save blacks. His approval rating among Jews, steady in the low 60s, is about 15 percent higher than it is with the goyim. Neoconservatives have been predicting a Jewish turn toward the Republicans since George McGovern only got about two-thirds of the Jewish vote—that’s right, only two-thirds—and yet it never happens. … Even so, on what authority does Blow have it that most American Jews decide their vote purely on the issue of Israel, or that Obama’s policies toward Israel are particularly unpopular with Jews? Blow may be without doubt on these points, but he is also without any reliable evidence.

I don’t think Obama’s somewhat tougher stance on peace-process issues is unrelated (and nor, I’d bet, does Alterman, though he also notes that the Obama administration has facilitated unprecedented military aid and cooperation between the United States and Israel). But the dominant dynamic this year is: Fewer Americans are Democrats; Jews are Americans; therefore, fewer Jews are Democrats.

Oy Vey, Obama [NYT]
Obama’s Silent Jewish Majority [The Daily Beast]
Earlier: Poll Finds Jews Trending GOP

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Joshua says:

At yet, in typical Marc Tracy fashion, this is sloppy, too. Recent Quinnipiac polls have Jews (and, for that matter, many goyim) excoriating Obama for his attitudes toward Israel. Maybe the 33% of Jews identifying with the Republican Party doesn’t correlate exactly with the opinions of the Quinnipiac poll, but I have heard of strong Democrats who are vowing to vote Republican over Obama’s seeming hard line over Israel (Alan Dershowitz would be one of those if he were living in Schakowsky’s district). These people cannot be ignored.

Jon Garfunkel says:

Forgive me, what is your (Marc Tracy’s) expertise is statistical analysis?
I’m no Nate Silver, but as a reader I think your reasoning is very weak here. Mere syllogism (your concluding sentence) does not trump data.

Indeed more Americans identify as Republican this year. But the percentage turnover in Jewish votes is greater than any other religious group, whether you compare to 2006 or 2004.

Alterman’s critique is similarly short-sighted. “The figures presented only go back to 2006,” he observes. But the accompanying charts go back to 1992. The previous years of overall Republican upswings (1994 and 2002) do not show the same sort of spike in Jewish Republican identification.

Alterman does point out the J Street poll which shows traditionally Jewish Democratic leaning, the Quinnipiac poll that Joshua points out above shouldn’t be ignored.

It is fair to conclude that some real-world phenomenon is driving this data. I see no reason to dispute — I hear many more Jews these days (whether from friends, or in shul, or online) that they feel Obama is selling Israel down the river, and, for that reason, identifying as Republican.

Folks, consider this: Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, George Mitchell, Dennis Ross, and Rahm Emanuel were all in lock-step on Israel during the Clinton Administration. Why the sudden hysteria over Obama? The team is the same. A little bit of hardball with PM Netanyahu, who likes to maneuver here and there, isn’t such a bad thing. Relax, please. Obama is pro-Israel. He’s just negotiating with a man who’s trickier to nail down than the worst Right Wing conspiracy theories convey about himself.

Scott Rose says:

2% of Jewish voters is *not* the same number of voters as 2% of Protestant voters. The increased number of Protestants that have only recently identified as Republican is greater than the total number of Jewish voters, Democrat, Republican and Independent. Ergo, the whole premise of Blow’s column . . . that the Jewish vote in Florida could determine the outcome of the 2012 Presidential election . . . is preposterous. That he developed that premise in a column stating that Jews have disproportionate influence helps us to understand why, in the comments under Blow’s column on the Times website, one sees that virulent anti-Semites came racing out of the woodwork.

Obama lost my support because i don’t see the real change. the same domination of the big business and nothing for the people. i wanna the state for it’s citizens, not the leader of the ‘free world’.
about israel, they live in the 30th era of the blood and soil, and the triumph of the national will. and this is not really the common values with me.

Having read Eric Alterman’s article all I can say is that it was possibly one of the most annoying pieces of claptrap I have read lately. Jews are leaving Obama because he is a lousey President, just like everyone else.His overt anti-Israel policies just make it easier to abandon him than if it were just for purely self-economic reasons. If the Jews of the US cared about Israel first and foremost they would have never voted for Obam in the first place.The idea too that US support for Israel is failing is ridicuous. In a recent poll US support for Israel is at it hightest in over twenty years- 65% of the US poplutaion overtly support Israel. Heavens you liberals really need to get a grip about yourselves. Whether you like it or not, your man in the White House is a disaster.

David says:

Josh and Jon,

Reading a Marc Tracy post is like reading a press release from the National Jewish Democratic Council. The only difference is that NJDC is open about their partisanship, while Marc pretends he’s evenhanded.


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Obama and the Jews

Has he lost support over Israel?

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