Vanessa Hudgens and Harvey Weinstein - 81st Annual Academy Awards - Governor's Ball

81st Annual Academy Awards – Governor’s Ball

(L-R) Producer Harvey Weinstein, wife Georgina Chapman, actor Zac Efron and actress Vanessa Hudgens attend the 81st Annual Academy Awards Governor’s Ball held at Kodak Theatre on February 22, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images) * Local Caption * Harvey Weinstein;Georgina Chapman;Zac Efron;Vanessa Hudgens

(February 22, 2009 – Source: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images North America)

Obama Holding Onto Liberal Jewish Voters Despite Israel, Iran Concerns

@tobincommentary 09.28.2012 – 3:25 PM

American Jews may take a more jaundiced view of the Iranian nuclear threat than the Obama administration, but that doesn’t seem to be affecting their opinions about the presidential race. The latest poll from the American Jewish Committee shows President Obama likely to take a smaller portion of the Jewish vote than he did in 2008 but avoiding the catastrophic decline that Republicans hoped his combative attitude toward Israel would produce. Obama leads Mitt Romney by a 65-24 percent margin among Jewish voters. That represents a marked decline from the 78 percent he got in 2008 (though Democrats now claim the number was only 74 percent). But Romney’s inability to get more than a quarter of the Jewish vote shows that resistance to the GOP among this largely liberal group is still intense.

That still shows a potential loss among Jewish voters for Obama that was larger than his expected decline from the totals he had in 2008 among the rest of the population. That can be reasonably interpreted as a backlash against the administration’s endless rounds of fights with Israel’s government, such as the latest one over Iran that gave the lie to the Democrats’ election-year Jewish charm offensive. But Romney’s failure to make more of this weakness on Obama’s part undermines any scenario by which lost Jewish votes for the Democrats could alter the outcome in swing states like Florida. While the poll shows some progress for the GOP this year, the data show that liberal ideology and partisan affinity for the Democrats still overwhelms any concerns about the Middle East for the majority of Jews.

While previous polls of Jewish voters have encountered skepticism because of sample size, this AJCommittee poll avoids that problem. Though the margin of error is fairly large at five percent, the sample consists of 1,040 Jews rather than the much smaller numbers of previous polls, including one also sponsored by the organization that showed Obama leading by a larger margin in Florida than many though reasonable.

The breakdown by denomination shows the depth of the Republicans’ problem. Obama has large leads among Conservative and Reform Jews as well as those who call themselves “just Jewish.” But Romney has a 54-40 percent edge among Orthodox voters. Given that the survey showed only 8.3 percent of the Jewish voting population were Orthodox, that accounts for the lopsided margin. However, that does give the GOP some hope for improving their lot in the future, since the Orthodox are the fastest growing sector of American Jewry.

Given the ongoing tussle between Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu over the former’s refusal to set red lines about the Iranian threat, it is interesting to note that 64 percent of Jewish voters don’t believe the president’s policies of diplomacy and sanctions will stop Iran. An equally large majority — 65 percent — would support U.S. military against Iran with an even larger number backing Israeli action that Obama opposes.

This data can be interpreted in one of two ways. On the one hand, Jewish voters may actually believe Obama will use force in a second term to stop Iran, rather than doubting him as apparently the Israelis do. On the other, it may be more proof that whatever their opinions about Israel or Iran, most Jews simply do not view these issues as priorities when they vote. American Jews are not only not one-issue voters, Israel ranks fairly low in their list of priorities with 61.5 percent listing the economy as the most important issue, 16.1 percent saying health care, 4.7 percent listing abortion and 4.5 percent mentioning U.S.-Israel relations. Only 4.2 percent called it the second most important issue and 6.1 percent said it was the third most important.

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Comments (19)

Jonathan, why do you keep on falling for those false polls? You write “the margin of error is fairly large at five percent”. FAIRLY LARGE???? this could amount to a swing of ten percent, for heaven’s sake! You add that Israel ranks low on their priorities- 4.5 percent, even smaller than abortion!! Now, anyone thinking this way is not worthy of being considered a Jewish vote. It should now be accepted that there is no Jewish vote- because the vast majority of “Jews” in this country think that the security of Israel is of less value than abortion !! Do you understand now why the reform and Conservative branches of Judaism have made no headway in israel? They are just not considered jewish.

7 replies · active 5 hours ago

Exactly right.If Netanyahu would try and legalize gay marriage in Israel, Israel might become a higher priority for American Jews. Simple survival of Israel as country does not rate as that important an issue with American Jews.Obama knows it too. How? His in house Jews told him.Shameful, but there it is.
israel is the one country in the middle east who is the most tolerant of gays- so the gay marriage argument is a red herring. Very simply, the majority of unaffiliated and reform jews do not “feel’ that Israel is part of its patrimony. Conservative Jews are split and orthodox jews know that “it can happen here”. The future of the relationship between Israel and The American jews will continue to deteriorate…sadly.

yamama's avatar - Go to profile yamama 73p · 23 hours ago

If the jewish vote in the United Sttes hangs on “Gay Marriage” they are dumber than I thought.
Of course I agree with you. I was being sarcastic.Israel is simply not a priority for American Jews. Too bad for Israel. She is going to learn that lesson painfully this November.
Too bad for American Jews. You cannot call yourself a Jew if you do not have empathy with the Jews of Israel and elsewhere. Great empathy with the survivors of the Holocaust. I guess we may have to redefine what is a Jew.
Exactly! I agree vandag.
I got the sarcasm, Michael! but your point is well taken. liberal Jews are just that: liberals first, Jews would have been a hard sell anyway, but IMHO having Paul Ryan on the GOP ticket didn’t help–at all. I get that you have to be pro-life to run for Republican office, despite the fact that many of us Republicans are pro-choice. but Ryan is a particularly fanatical pro-lifer, and he scares people. sorry to put it that way.I think Romney lost several points with Jews when he made that choice, just because abortion and gay rights ARE more important to them than Israel. sad, but true.
I regret the very conception of a “Jewish vote” for reasons I explained here:…. “The Famed Jewish Vote.” I stress family loyalties to grandparents who were immigrants and who struggled. It is easy for successful persons of Jewish descent to identify with a gentile elite that is skilled in co-opting and containing threatening movements from below. The latter elite were the “socially responsible capitalists” and they put up with Jews as long as they behaved, swerving neither to the Right nor to the Left.… ad was put together by the jewish council for education and research.
The Democrat Jews are more concern about their dhmni status in the US than the condition of the Jews in general. The idea that you can be a loyal US citizen and support IL is foreign to them even anathema. They believe that by rejecting or ignoring IL they are better American citizen.
1) Abortion 2) Gay Marriage 3) Combatting Nazis, roughly defined as GW Bush and any believing Christian 4) Supporting Black anti-semites and illegal immigrants who loathe Jews 5) Oscars and sub-par Weinstein flicks 6) New York Times 7) LA Times 8) Free healthcare for non-tax-payers 9) Palestine 10) Giving a shit if Tel Aviv is nuked Top Ten Priorities of American Jews (as an SF Bay Area resident, believe me, I know).

1 reply · active 19 hours ago

…and you’re right.. Well said.

K2K's avatar - Go to profile K2K -11p · 18 hours ago

do you really think anyone agreeing to respond to a survey for Jewish voters is going to be representative???Besides, it is not as if any voter has any confidence in either Party for the last eleven years.I am counting on the Arctic ice melt to end my despair before 2016.btw, those of us who are Jewish by birth, but non-observant of the rituals, really feel unwelcome by the incessant blasting that we must be liberals.
Antidote to all these “opinions,” not one of which has much to back itself up: a new book buy Robert Wistrich, ” From Ambivalence to Betrayal: The Left, the Jews, and Israel (Studies in Antisemitism).” This book is about us.What most of us don’t want to face is that most Jewish Americans are looking for the exit-door. That’s the reason most of our ancestors emigrated. They wanted “out!” Imagine, if there had been no anti-Jewish bias, hatreds, “restricted communities” and “restricted golf clubs” in America, how quickly most of our ancestors would have gladly “forgotten who they were, where they came from!” “Pass the cheesburgers!” would have immediately replaced “Next year in Jerusalem!” Instead, it took two or three generations.Even so, we marvel at how quickly our lot “assimilated.” But do we care to admit why this was so? We would rather not know, because the truth is that most of our relatives learned new ways and adopted them wholesale—as a means of not “being Jewish.” Judaism? It’s an ancient mystery religion, not what’s practiced in the reform “temples.”By contrast, Rabbinic Judaism is in part a reflection of the religion of Moses, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and David. It’s the religion of the rabbis, with a focus on the theocracy set in place by Solomon and his priestly allies, the Levites. I am not advocating for it. It is what it is, and our ancestors were largely all swimming in the Rabbinic Sea when they came to America.Today, the overwhelming majority of Jewish Americans have very little to do Rabbinic Judaism. How could they? Why would they?

But Israel is a “religious thing,” not a piece of geography in the eastern Mediterranean. For the Jews, it’s the “Land God gave us, the Land of the Covenant, the Promised Land.” Why would most Jewish men and women in Los Angeles, Chicago or NYC, who are wondering which Ivy League school to send their kids to, adhere to an ancient mystery religion and inhale the mysteries at its core, among them the Covenant?

Israel is the place we long for—only if we have immersed ourselves in biblical and talmudic texts, only if we accept that the Covenant—like the sacrifice of Isaac—defines who we are. A man covers himself in a prayer shawl so he can immure himself in that reality, that sense of identity, which stretches backward through the ages. He wraps his tefillin, in order to cement the connection. What is that for 90% of Jews here? Nothing at all.

But there’s your dilemma, and there is no solution for it. The majority of Jews in America find “meaning” in leftist “social justice” rather than in the Ethics of our Fathers. I don’t blame them, but they are heading down a dangerous path, if history is our guide.

Surprisingly, it is the Jews of America and the UK who are most disconnected from Israel, and who long not to be who they are! Australian Jews, Canadian Jews, even French Jews—they are far more into “being Jewish.” For them, Israel is “theirs,” and so they are willing to fight for it, and certainly willing to “vote” for it! Here in the US, we’re mostly “just Jews,” not all that interested in “being Jewish,” and actually somewhat embarrassed and put off by such an “affront” to our “individuality.”

Why would any group like ours care about whether Jerusalem is Jewish or Moslem? Most Jewish Americans wouldn’t. And, most don’t, no matter what they tell pollsters.

2 replies · active 5 hours ago

outstanding comment. very perceptive. the urge “to not be Jewish” is very strong in us, hence the (correct) stereotype of the self-hating Jew.I also think there’s another thing at play: American Jews who think Obama’s just fine and Bibi’s a whiner (eg my own brother) don’t really think Israel is in danger. they know about terrorist attacks, of course, and they hear Iran spouting off. but they don’t think the danger is real.some of us understand that the existential risk to Israel is HUGE. but these liberal Jews can’t imagine a world without Israel–after all, most of them have never known one–and they don’t honestly believe that little country might not be there some day.they’ll be the first to say, when Tel Aviv is a smoking hole in the ground, “Gosh…we didn’t really think they’d DO it…” but by then it’ll be too late.

yamama's avatar - Go to profile yamama 73p · 5 hours ago

Excellent points. But American jews are still holding on to customs, Bar Mitzvas (although some of them so outlandish, it boggles the mind) Jewish new Year, Weddings with yarmulkas, Hanukah, all the jewish holidays, and traditions. If they want “out”, why hold onto it? It still identifies them as jews.
I have a friend who got married to a jew, who declared himself an atheist, but insisted she convert to judaism. That doesnt make any sense.I would have refused.
I think the American jews are a very confused mixed up people.
Excellent. Really good.Being a dual Canada/US citizen, originally from Canada, I can attest to the surprisingly large difference between Canadian and American Jews regarding identity, and ‘groundedness’.

About abyssum

I am a retired Roman Catholic Bishop, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, Texas
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