AJC Survey Confirms: Obama Losing Jewish Vote

September 26th, 2011 at 1:18 pm | 22 Comments |

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A new poll from the American Jewish Committee shows further erosion of President Obama’s Jewish support. Only 45 percent of American Jews approve of “the way President Barack Obama has handled his job as President, medical ” and 48 percent disapprove. This is an even worse statistic than the 40 percent Jewish disapproval that Gallup reported last week.

Even more damning, nurse the AJC survey suggests that this disapproval might not simply stem from general economic woes: 53 percent of those surveyed disapprove “of the Obama Administration’s handling of U.S.-Israel relations.” And a plurality – 45 percent – disapprove “of the Obama Administration’s handling of the Iran nuclear issue.”

This runs opposite the story that Obama supporters have spun since NY-9. The loss of the Jewish vote in NY-9, they argue, stemmed from unrepresentative Orthodox Jews who voted on gay marriage and former Representative Anthony Weiner. It had nothing to do with Obama’s Israel policy.

Whoops. Gallup and now AJC have proved this wrong. It seems that the Administration’s unceasing public chastisements of Israel and its meek approach toward Iran do matter to American Jews. And this, in turn, should matter to Obama. American Jews, though only four percent of the vote, finance a good chunk of the Democratic political engine.

Ron Kampeas estimates “that Jewish donors provide between one-third and two-thirds of the party’s money.” David Freedlander claims that “nearly 60 percent of the money raised by the Democratic National Committee is donated by Jews,” and Steven Windmueller says that “Jewish donors have generated as much as 45 cents of every dollar raised by Democrats.”

But while Obama’s Jewish problem might mean fewer votes and less money for his 2012 reelection, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the Republican Party will pick up loads of Jewish votes and money. According to the same AJC poll, if “Barack Obama is the Democratic candidate and Mitt Romney the Republican candidate,” Jews would favor Obama 50 to 32. Matched against Rick Perry, Jews would favor Obama 55 to 25, and Obama would slaughter Bachmann 59 to 19 percent.

True, each of these percentages represents a precipitous decline from Obama’s 78 percent share of the Jewish vote in 2008, but the beneficiary is not the Republican candidate as much as it is the “neither” survey option.

For Republicans to take full advantage of Obama’s Jewish problem, they will have to name the right candidate (Romney looks better than Perry) while continuing to press their advantage on Israel and softening their social positions. This especially means no more public group Christian prayers from Rick Perry – something that even drew criticism from the conservative, Jewish Washington Post commentator Jennifer Rubin.

It’s unrealistic to expect candidates at this point to focus on Israel or cool it on gay marriage – the Republican primary is in full swing and the Jewish Republican primary vote is virtually nonexistent. But when the time comes for the general election, the Republican candidate will have to make a real effort to get the Jewish vote and money. Yes, it now seems definite that Jews are upset with Obama. But this doesn’t mean they’re ready to go Republican.

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22 Comments so far ↓

  • Graychin

    Just goes to show that Jews are a whole lot like other Americans – only more Democratic.

    I can’t understand why you guys keep insisting that Jews are different from the rest of us.

    • Graychin

      And even if it were true that Obama is anti-Israel (which it isn’t), most Jews are not single-issue Israel First voters.

  • Elvis Elvisberg

    It seems that the Administration’s unceasing public chastisements of Israel and its meek approach toward Iran

    … are made up in your brain, and are not true.

    The economy’s in the tank, so the president loses support.

    You are arguing (1) that American Jews have somewhat monolithically Likud-like views on Israel’s security, and (2) that American Jews are falling off in their support at an unusual pace relative to other groups (3) because of Obama’s policies toward Israel and Iran.

    Best of luck substantiating these views. This AJC poll is one data point in favor of #3, but you still have quite a ways to go.

    • Elvis Elvisberg

      Oh hey look, Jonathan Bernstein is writing about you! http://plainblogaboutpolitics.blogspot.com/2011/09/hey-reporters.html

      Here’s the thing. Barack Obama isn’t as popular now as he was in January 2009. This is not exactly a little-known fact; indeed, we fortunately have some really good indicators of exactly how popular Obama is overall, and they’re not all that obscure.

      What this means is that sloppy journalists can get endless mileage from picking out any subgroup in the nation and finding out that, gee, Obama has lost popularity there! See, for example, a NYT story over the weekend noting that some Obama ’08 donors are less enthusiastic this time around. Now, Seth Masket isn’t sure that the trend in the story exists in the first place, but even if it does: of course some past Obama supporters don’t like him as much now! He’s less popular than he was then!

      To know whether any of these stories is actually news, it’s absolutely necessary to compare Obama’s decline within the group in question to his overall decline. …

  • ottovbvs

    I’ll bet you over 75% of Jews vote for Obama next year. Fancy a $1000 on it Mr Richer? Any questions?

  • Frumplestiltskin

    nice article, I don’t agree but nicely laid out. NY is going Democratic no matter what and if it doesn’t then that means Obama is losing in a blowout so the Jewish vote will just be an asterik.
    The only place this will matter is in Florida where a few percentage points will be key. But this poll has one major flaw. After the UN speech I have been reading nothing but praise (if backhanded as in “finally”) for Obama for his speech there.
    The poll had 800 respondents who were interviewed by telephone between September 6 -21, 2011
    Obama made the speech on the 21st so I really think we need to see how much his actions at the UN impacted his standing.

  • rbottoms

    Damn, Obama hates Israel so much he sold them bunker buster bombs that Bush would not.


  • mannie

    I think the author left out a key statistic; how does than number compare with the non-Jewish sentiment towards the Prez? By my look at the numbers I think the Jewish approval rating of Mr. Obama is somewhat higher than the non-Jew number, which I thought was in the lower 40′s. We love Obama at my shule! And it looks like he would clearly smoke any of the current GOP contenders, as he should. He so out-classes every one of them, both in terms of his intelligence and his character.

  • mannie

    To continue, if Barack Obama doesent get a second term it will be one of the Great Travesties of American History. Sure, he is presiding at an incredibaly problematic time. Huge waves of change are sweeping the macro landscape of the planet, essentially the competitive acendence of the Third World, and the huge bite that took out of the developed world’s business. But just the man as a personality. What magic! Born to a free spirit mom who had him living during his formative years in Hawaii, Kenya, Indonesia! Pure magic! Bumping in to Imams in the hallways of his school! Facinating! Then, this one-in-a-billion man gets in to the Best School on the Planet, and knocks them dead. Then what does he do? New York? London? What guilt edged firm would he go to?? He goes into inner city Chicago, and works as a community organizer. This guy is a Mother Teresa. Then, politics. A centrist, I think it is fair to say. And he rises in less than a decade to the top job in the country. And he is a dignified man, let me tell you that. And I think he is doing a pretty damn good job of holding together policy in Washington, and trying to move thi9ngs along in the blinding face of a right wing hurricane that just wants to blow up every single initiative of his White House. Its a classless, classless GOP side, I’ll tell you that. At the bear minimum, I wish they would show this marvelous man the respect he clearly deserves. This man Obama is so far out of the league of the GOP rabble that fights him that if you loose the 4 more years of this man you, America, are a foolish, foolish country.

    • jakester

      No, it shows how idiotic the liberals are for picking this guy to represent them. It was like trying to celebrate our first woman hispanic justice, Sotomayor. Who cares what race she is, she’s second tier at best? If Obama loses, he earned it.

      • mannie

        This man has so much to bring to the table. But you have to meet him at the table.

  • Redrabbit

    This is the era of the 40/40 rule, if I may call it that. There are two chunks of the country, both at around 40% or so, and those people all always vote for their party. They will probably almost always vote a straight ticket, and will not swing from one election to another. The most they can do is stay home.

    The remaining 20% of the electorate are the swing voters.

    These are VERY rough estimates, but the dynamic does seem to be something similar to this.

    The days when something like the “Reagan DEmocrats” could happen are long gone. They could come again, but the current reality is that most voters are solid partisans, and candidates must mobilize their base while not scaring off independents/swing voters in tight elections. Elections are only lopsided these days when one party has a dispirited base that decides to just stay home.

  • jakester

    Well, last week it was he wasn’t losing the Jewish vote, now he is but it isn’t so bad. Well Jews may be small, but people tend to listen to Jews more, like doctors, lawyers, writers , journalists. Heck you can lose 10% of the dumb white or black vote, but how many people listen to truck drivers or maids versus their attorneys

  • Slide

    Elections are always about alternatives. As Obama said just recently in a speech, “Don’t compare me to the Almighty, compare me to the alternative.” When all is said and done, Obama will have a very significant majority of the Jewish vote.

    • jakester

      But less of the Jewish vote than usual or in 2008

    • Graychin

      “Don’t compare me to the Almighty, compare me to the alternative.”

      Slide, I missed that line. It’s a good one. :D

      I have a hard time envisioning Rick Perry having strong support among Jewish voters. Not even among Israel First voters.

      Romney? My Yiddish isn’t very good, but Romney comes off as fakakta. Or not ekht. Can someone help me out here?

  • Slide

    In 2008, this same group did a poll as to who the respondents would vote for, Obama or McCain? The results: Obama 57% McCain 30%. Doesn’t look very different than the poll cited today now does it? And as we all know, Obama ended up with a lot more than 57% of the Jewish vote.


  • SerenityNow

    Try as I might I find little in this article of any relevance, substance or importance. I’m not Jewish but I grew up in a very Jewish section of NYC. I was the temple goy for my neighborhood Orthodox synagogue which meant that I was paid to turn on the lights and furnace as necessary each sabbath. Because I was raised in a tri-lingual home (English, French & German) I had little difficulty picking up Yiddish so despite my Catholic school uniform I was welcomed effusively into the homes of my Jewish neighbors many of whom who were Holocaust survivors.

    More than half of my college classmates were Jewish and I have maintained close relations with many of them since the ’60′s. What I know about them and their children and grandchildren is that they are concerned about the same things that the rest of us are concerned about. Do they have a warm spot in their hearts for Eretz Israel? For the most part, yes. (As an aside I do remember that many of my Orthodox neighbors in the ’50′s were still somewhat ambivalent because they believed that Israel could/should not be reconstituted in the absence of the Messiah.) However I would also say that I hear a good deal of criticism of the current Israeli government from my Jewish friends, especially those of the younger generations. They question the wisdom and equity of Israel’s continued occupation of the West Bank and the inherently racist attitudes of many settlers. For many Jews of my acquaintance the ironic sense that Gaza has become the world’s largest concentration camp is crushingly hurtful. And most conversations about Israel’s commitment to a two-state solution include passing references to how every government since 1967 has made establishing “facts on the ground” a policy pillar and probable deal killer in the long run.

    I don’t know if Jewish political contributions to the Democratic Party are as represented in this piece but I’d be very surprised if my life-long friends of the Hebrew persuasion are planning on sitting on their wallets or supporting a Republican nominee next year. But I do know that many Jews are far more critical of the current Likkud government and much less likely to let their feelings about Israel affect the way in which they act and vote as Americans.

  • Zaramart-kippot

    I am Jewish and there is no such thing as the “Jewish vote”. First of all Jews are pretty independent thinkers and we come in all stripes and political persuasions.

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