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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Obama's Jewish problem: It's the substance, stupid

In the Wall Street Journal, Start-Up Nation co-author Dan Senor explains how Tuesday night's election results in NY-9 show that Barack Hussein Obama has an uphill battle to win Jewish votes and Jewish funding in 2012 (Hat Tip: Zvi S).
New York's special congressional election on Tuesday was the first electoral outcome directly affected by President Obama's Israel policy. Democrats were forced to expend enormous resources in a losing effort to defend this safe Democratic district, covering Queens and Brooklyn, that Anthony Weiner won last year by a comfortable margin.

A Public Policy Poll taken days before the election found a plurality of voters saying that Israel was "very important" in determining their votes. Among those voters, Republican candidate Robert Turner was winning by a 71-22 margin. Only 22% of Jewish voters approved of President Obama's handling of Israel. Ed Koch, the Democrat and former New York mayor, endorsed Mr. Turner because he said he wanted to send a message to the president about his anti-Israel policies.

This is a preview of what President Obama might face in his re-election campaign with a demographic group that voted overwhelmingly for him in 2008. And it could affect the electoral map, given the battleground states—such as Florida and Pennsylvania—with significant Jewish populations. In another ominous barometer for the Obama campaign, its Jewish fund-raising has deeply eroded: One poll by McLaughlin & Associates found that of Jewish donors who donated to Mr. Obama in 2008, only 64% have already donated or plan to donate to his re-election campaign.
Read the whole thing. Senor goes through a long list of affronts that Obama has directed at Israel and the Jewish community, and I am sickened by every single one of them.

Unfortunately, however, I fear that Senor is reading too much into the outcome of NY-9. But first, let's address Senor's statement that 'only 64%' of Jewish donors who donated to Obama in 2008 have already donated or plan to donate to his re-election campaign. It's now September 14, 2011 and the election is still 14 months away. Is 64% all that bad for this early in a campaign? I don't know. But I would want to see comparable statistics from other campaigns to get an idea of how bad that is. Bush 2004? Clinton 1996? Anyone have numbers.

Now, let's get back to NY-9. NY-9 is one of the most heavily Jewish districts in the US. 40% of its voters identify themselves as Orthodox Jews. That's an awful lot of voters who are going to be predisposed to vote Republican - even if the Democratic candidate is an Orthodox Jew even if he had not supported gay marriage in the State Assembly (which he did). I doubt it's indicative of what the Jewish vote in South Florida or suburban Chicago or even other parts of New York and New Jersey might look like in 2012. And I doubt there are a whole lot of Orthodox Jews who are big Obama donors (other than S. Daniel Abraham, can anyone name one?).

So yes, I hate Obama and I'm thrilled to see him defeated in New York. But I'm afraid that Dan Senor is reading too much into it.

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At 9:34 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Liberal Jews are not going to abandon Obama. But it does underscore the difficulty he has in appealing to even secure Democratic strongholds to back him and his policies. With a 39% approval rating, he faces an uphill climb to re-election next year. And it will turn on the economy.

At 9:59 PM, Blogger Sunlight said...

I for sure think Dan Senor is Wishing. He is a fabulous person. So ok.

But I still don't get this. In NY-9, 40% of the voters self identify as Orthodox Jews, who are (mainly) conservative? So you are saying that they usually vote (D), even though they are conservative, what, because the candidates are Jewish? or what? Or do they usually vote their interests (R?) and it is the other 60% of the voters that have swung over to the (R) candidate this time? Which is it? We need to not sling this onto the 40% *Orthodox* Jews if they normally vote conservative anyway. Who are the other 60% in the district? Eh? Other types of Jews? or non-Jewish NY liberals?

At 10:32 PM, Blogger biorabbi said...

Carl, I think your wrong about south Florida. True, the amount of orthodox Jews is not 40 % there, but I know for a fact the elderly Jews who are staunchly secular(but markedly zionist)live there. They will not vote for Obama. These are the Ed Koch Jews: secular, liberal, ethnic, and staunchly zionist. Many of the younger Jews in south Florida voted for Obama the last go around(so did Koch), but they won't this time.

Maybe they won't vote for a Palin or a Perry. I don't have the answer to this, but they will not, ever, vote for Obama again. This is Carter v. Reagan all over again. Sadly, there is not Reagan. Yet.

At 10:44 PM, Blogger BH in Iowa said...

The bottom line is the Dems lost a district they've held for over 80 years, and where they have a 3-1 registration advantage. Regardless of faith there are some dissatisfied Dems who are making a statement. If traditional Democrat areas become the 2012 battlegrounds Obama will become unemployed.

At 11:20 PM, Blogger Noah David Simon said...

If you don't know... I'm not orthodox (though I have a deep respect for them and keep a moderate semi Kosher). My family no longer black sheeps me. When I mention objective points about how Obama has failed their retort is slow and full of pauses. They still want Obama to win, but they have a hard time making their own arguments. My family has gone from complete censorship and fear of what I may say to a point where they are listening. I'd say this is a healthy place to be and if I am given reasonable arguments and not stupid GOP choir talking points... that I may have a very good chance of getting them to vote for a Republican. They won't ever be Pro Life, and they won't ammend their stance on abortion... but they listen to me about issues that deal with government being too big. When I mentioned that is is illegal to take pictures of the police in the state of Mass they asked my why I wanted to take pictures of the police and then changed the subject. This tells me that they know that the Blue State juxtaposition of righteousness is weak. When I say I would save Social Security by taking money from the schools they were not hostile to the idea like they were four years ago.

At 11:54 PM, Blogger Sparky the Wonder Dog said...

Sure, look, the district used to be Democratic, Obama won by 8 points in 2008--so the question is what changed from then to now?

Something happened: Orthodox who used to vote Dem broke with the party, or they sat home, or other Democrats sat home, or switched to Turner, but somehow a district that didn't have a vibrant GOP presence went for the GOP guy.

Weprin's explanation for the difference between 2008 and now is that Obama now has big problems in New York:



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