As long as I can remember, American Jews have regarded Israel about the same way as northeastern Catholics look at abortion; something that’s supposed to be of overriding importance, but doesn’t really affect their voting patterns.
But Obama’s radical dissociation from Israel, and his shameless treatment of Prime Minister Netanyahu, seems to be provoking a change. I heard these numbers over the weekend, while interviewing Mark Miller of the Republican Jewish Coalition; for the first time, American Jews are souring on Obama and the Democrats:
United States President Barack Obama has lost nearly half of his support among American Jews, a poll by the McLaughlin Group has shown.
The US Jews polled were asked whether they would: (a) vote to re-elect Obama, or (b) consider voting for someone else. 42% said they would vote for Obama and 46%, a plurality, preferred the second answer. 12% said they did not know or refused to answer.
Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ll go to the GOP endorsee; that’s the GOP’s job to take care of.
Still, you don’t see these kinds of numbers every day:
In the Presidential elections of 2008, 78% of Jewish voters, or close to 8 out of 10, chose Obama. The McLaughlin poll held nearly 18 months later, in April 2010, appears to show that support is down to around 4 out of 10.
The poll showed that key voter segments including Orthodox/Hassidic voters, Conservative voters, voters who have friends and family in Israel and those who have been to Israel, are all more likely to consider voting for someone other than Obama.
Among Orthodox/Hassidic voters, 69% marked ‘someone else’ vs. 17% who marked ‘re-elect.’ Among Conservative-affiliated voters the proportion was 50% to 38%. Among Reform Jews, a slim majority of 52% still supported Obama while 36% indicated they would consider someone else. Among Jews with family in Israel and those who had been to Israel, about 50% said they would consider someone else…
It’s still two and a half years ’til the election, so nobody needs to get excited. But not since Reagan have we seen such an erosion among Jewish support for the Democrats.