We all know Politico leans to the left, but Charlie Mahtesian’s column today, Is the Jewish vote really up for grabs? is biased even by Politico standards. It seems like a lazy reproduction of a Democratic Party press release.
Some of the conclusions of the column are correct, but he gets there in a most biased way, there is little independent analysis or perspective and final conclusion is a lazy one. In short, his readers were cheated.
The column begins with the false assumption that Republicans believe Mitt Romney will win a sizable share of the Jewish vote.
Regular readers of these pages will know there is no way Barack Obama will lose the majority of the Jewish vote in the upcoming election. However, the prediction here, and by other serious pundits is he will drop 12-15 percentage points (from 78% in 2008), which may hurt him in specific swing states such as Florida and Pennsylvania.
As his jumping off point for his analysis Mahtesian points to a comprehensive new report from the Solomon Project, a non-partisan group that works to educate the American Jewish community about its history of civic involvement.
Here’s the fun part, with a “straight face” Mahtesian tells us who wrote this “non-partisan” study:
Authored by Democratic pollster Mark Mellman, DCCC Director of Targeting Aaron Strauss and Kenneth Wald, a University of Florida professor who co-authored the book “Jews in American Politics,” the study is designed to push back against the notion that American Jews are beginning to switch their allegiance to the Republican Party.
Two-thirds of the study was written by Democratic Party operatives, how can he call it non-partisan?
The authors identify two distinct eras of Jewish presidential voting – from 1972 through 1988, when Republican candidates for president attracted between 31 and 37 percent of the Jewish vote, and from 1992 through 2008, when the GOP share dropped to between 15 and 23 percent.
Democratic congressional candidates have received an even greater share of the Jewish vote— ranging from 71 to 80 percent of the two-party vote between 1976 and 2000 and from 71 to 88 percent since 2002.
Mahthesian cheats his readers by not adding perspective.
Nixon’s weapons airlift to Israel during the Yom Kippur War (even though it was the same administration that created the need for the airlift), combined with his policy of detente toward the USSR and China, raised his percent of Jewish vote from 17% in 1968 to 35% in is second (1972) election.
From Nixon through George HW Bush’s 1988 election, the GOP usually
garnered a percentage of the Jewish vote somewhere in the mid 30% range. The one exception was Jimmy Carter’s reelection attempt.
Carter recieved less than half the Jewish vote in 1980 (45%). But even then,Reagan
did not win the majority of Jews. Reagan received 39% of the vote while independent candidate John
Anderson. Similar to Obama, Carter was seen as being anti-Israel
as well as being an albatross around the neck of the American economy
just like this president.
As for what happened after 1988, the
elder Bush ruined the Jewish vote for the GOP. His administration was
seen as anti-Israel (remember James Baker saying ” F**K the Jews they
wont vote for us anyway” ?). With his second run fro the presidency, the
Republican dropped below 20%, only to begin to claw its way back a bit
during George W Bush’s second campaign (24%) and McCain’s failed effort (22%).
The most recent Gallup polling of Jewish registered voters puts Obama’s level of support closer to the 1972 to 1988 era – he’s up 64 percent to 29 percent. Gallup noted that Obama is running about 5 points behind where he was just before the 2008 election, while Romney is running 4 points better than McCain.
Those numbers suggest that while Obama isn’t likely to hit his 2008 mark among Jews, the GOP isn’t exactly poised to make dramatic gains either.
Again here the Politico writer is cheating his audience by not providing perspective.
The comparison with 2008 is not valid. Throughout much of the campaign Sen. McCain was polling at around 35% of the Jewish vote primarily because Obama’s history of being Anti-Israel. Three things happened to raise Obama’s standing.
- Obama got the blessing of well-respected (but progressive) Jewish Leaders, such as Ed Koch who made assurances of Obama’s support of Israel.
- McCain totally blew the way he handled the financial crisis. It hurt him with all voters.
- Sarah Palin. Liberal Jews are put off by people of faith (even their own), and they believed the liberal media’s attacks on the Governor.
In 2012, Obama will still have the support of most liberal Jewish leadership, but it will be tepid at best. Additionally no assurances of his Israel support will be able to overcome his actual record.
This time it is Obama “blowing” the financial crisis (and the entire economy).
Finally Sarah Palin will not be the VP nominee.
Here some more that Charlie Mahtesian didn’t think about.
The Jewish population is a very small part of the electorate (around 2%
of the population). Mitigating its small size is that Jews tend to turn
out for elections in large number and the population is concentrated in some
key states. This means they may have they may have a bigger influence in
some key battleground states, but only in a close election were other
voting blocs are switching from Obama also.
Allow me to explain what I mean. The states with the largest Jewish populations are:
|2008 Result||2012 Electoral
|New Jersey||504,450||Obama +16||14|
All but Texas went to Obama in 2008. Texas will most probably stay in
the red column in 2012 as NY, California, Illinois, Massachusetts and
Maryland will most probably stay in the blue.
But in the key
battleground states of Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio and even possibly in
New Jersey, the Jewish vote may play an important role. Not only because
more Jews will vote for the GOP candidate, but because many will stay home not wanting to vote for the anti-Israel Obama, but not feeling
comfortable to switch allegiance even for one election.
Even with the possible switch of some of the Jewish vote, even with its
concentration in key states, it will take more than the switching of
some of the Jewish vote to turn those blue states into red. One place
to look is the Catholic population. In coal mining states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania miners may ignore their union’s direction and vote against a president who is trying to destroy their jobs.
Politico’s Charlie Mahtesian’s piece in Politico today did not add perspective and tried to cover-up the bias of a study’s authors. While he is correct in saying Obama’s percent of the Jewish vote will probably be in the mid-60% range. He fails to identify ways that may hurt Obama’s chances, by forgetting that election day is really 50 state-wide elections for president, and the Jewish vote is concentrated in a few key states.
Mr. Mahtesian’s readers were cheated, instead of analysis they received a biased press release.