Fresh off the big Democratic party loss in NY-9, Gallup has shared its latest national polling data on Jews with Poltico which shows Obama’s support in the Jewish community continues to erode.
Obama’s approval rating among Jewish Americans is down to 55 percent – a five point drop from June and a 13 point drop from May which is when he made the demand that Israel use the 1949 Armistice lines as the starting point for negotiations instead of as the goal of negotiations.
Four out of 10 Jewish Americans currently disapprove of Obama, according to polling data provided to POLITICO by Gallup, which has yet to post the numbers on its website.
This 40 percent disapproval rating is 8 percent higher than the 32 percent disapproval rating among Jewish Americans that was last reported by Gallup in June.
Together, the rise in disapproval and dip in approval ratings are a net negative 11 point downturn for Obama among Jews.
When the June numbers were released, most pundits felt it was meaningless that Jews would never abandon the Democratic Party not even to the extent they did with Jimmy Carter (who got 45% of the Jewish Vote in 1980). Last week as attention turned to the Turner-Weprin race the scuttlebutt changed. It seemed as if pundits were now predicting that Jewish voters were going to abandon Obama in droves and the only Jewish votes Obama will get are David Axelrod and Rahm Emanuel.
Truth be told the pundits were wrong in June and are wrong today. Here are the facts:
- It is true that Jewish voters are angry with Obama’s anti-Israel policies, but it is not true that Jews base their votes on that one issue. If that was the case, George Bush would have gotten much more that 24% of the vote when he ran against the weak-on-terror John Kerry in 2004. Bush was probably the most pro-Israel President in US history.
- Even when Jewish voters rejected Jimmy Carter, it was not solely because of his stance on Israel. The economy was in the crapper big-time inflation and unemployment were both high.
- A close look at the NY-9 race shows that Israel wasn’t the only reason for the switch of the Jewish vote. It took at least one additional issue on top of Israel for the voters to switch.
When push comes to shove the fate of the Jewish vote in 2012 depends on three things, the economy, Israel and who the GOP offers. Two of the three (the economy and Obama’s anti-Israel policies) will not improve before election day. The third is left to be seen. A candidate seen as moderate such as a Romney or a Gingrich would probably be the most attractive to the Jewish Vote.
A big segment of the Jewish Vote is ripe for the picking, that doesn’t mean they are going anywhere. Depending on who the Republicans pick, I would suspect that the GOP garners between 35% (what Nixon got in 1972) and 40% of the Jews (what Reagan got in 1980). Which is a huge gain but not the total abandonment predicted in some circles.
Frankly, the bigger danger for the Democratic Party is the shift to the GOP is accompanied by disillusionment, the Jews stay home. In that case it not only causes the President to lose votes, but also the candidates down the ticket.
Even if a major segment of liberal Jews stay home ord vote GOP, the entire Jewish population represents only 2.2% of the U.S. population what kind of impact could they have? (NY-9 is 40% Jewish). In a close election, a shift of Jewish votes could lose key battleground states for Obama. States where there is a relatively larger Jewish population such as
Other states with a big Jewish populations New York, Massachusetts and California wouldn’t shift from Obama even if he was caught in bed with the proverbial “dead woman or live sheep.” And as a favorite son of Illinois he can count on that state’s electoral votes. But a shift of 73 electoral votes, 20% of his 2008 total of 365 will make it much more difficult for President Obama to be reelected.
In summary, 2012 will see a shift in Jewish voting patterns, but not a total abandonment (and not only because of Israel). While a small percentage of total voters, a change in a few key battle ground states may lead to some blue states moving into the red column and the presidency shifting party’s. But to suggest a total shift or an effect in more than a few states (and only if those states are close) is being irresponsible.