The last time a Democrat received less than 70% of the Jewish vote is when Michael Dukakis garnered 64% of the vote in 1988 when he ran against George HW Bush. That same HW Bush that ruined the vote for the GOP, his Secretary of State James Baker made it a point to alienate the Jews. He was famous for saying “F**K the Jews they won’t vote for us anyway.” That became a self-fulfilling prophecy as Bill Clinton received 80% of the vote in 1992. Every Democratic Party candidate since has achieved at least 76% of American Jews.
The 2012 election may Change all that.
In his first run for the presidency, Barack Obama got 78% of the Jewish vote. The prediction on these pages for over a year now, has been in 2012 he will get between 62-65% of the Jewish vote. Since Jews tend to turn out in big numbers (for them) and tend to vote Democratic, this loss of 13-16% of the Jewish vote could hurt Obama in key battle-ground states such as Florida, Nevada, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Other states with large Jewish populations such as New York and California would still go for Obama even if he was caught in bed with the proverbial, dead woman and live boy.
According to a new poll but the American Jewish Committee, if the election were held today besides surprising lots of people (because its not election day) the split of Jewish Votes would be:
Barack Obama 64.9%, Mitt Romney 24.1%, Undecided 9.9%.
I would suggest that as we get closer to the election the Obama number will drop a bit and the Romney number will go up by at least ten percent. Allow me to explain.
1) That over-sampling Democratic party thing, does not apply. I believe the Democrats (at 55%) have been under-sampled by around 9% and Republicans (16%) by around 12%. The 64% to 28% margin would match other polls such as the Gallup poll.
2) Israel Isn’t important to my vote. Ever since the Romans kicked the Jews out of what was then called Judea after the Bar Kochba revolt in 135 CE, Jews have been accused of dual loyalty. It is what the Crusaders said when they killed the Jews in their towns before they went on their holy-war, it is what Hitler said in the 1930’s, and it is what modern progressives such as MJ Rosenberg say today.
When asked the question how important Israeli is to their vote, most of the time a Jew will answer not very. In this survey for example only 4.5% of Jews said that Israel-US relations are an important issue. I would answer horse-poop and you can quote me on that. The two biggest shifts in Jewish vote from first presidential run to second, since the creation of Israel were Jimmy Carter 71% to 45% (in the total vote Carter dropped by 9%) and George HW Bush who went from 35% to 11% (total vote dropped by 15%).
The key is they will not switch their votes on Israel alone, for example Ronald Reagan who was seen as great for America but not so great for Israel went from 39% to 31%, not a steep jump when you consider that first number was inflated by having Jimmy Carter as his opponent and the 31% was still higher than Gerald Ford’s 27%.
Israel becomes a big factor when there are other issues that make Jewish people (and all Americans question a candidate). Carter’s presidency created stagflation and a rescission that was worse than the one which began five years ago, and HW Bush’s presidency was marred by an election year recession.
This campaign season is similar to that of both Carter and Bush 41, an anti-Israel incumbent President overseeing a lousy economy, a double-play disaster for Obama.
3) I would never vote for a Republican (is anybody looking?) The week before election day in 1980 Jimmy Carter had a 45 to 39% lead in the polls, Reagan ended up winning the election by a ten point 51 to 41% vote. Were the polls that lousy? Yes and no. Some of the difference was attributable to sampling errors, but much of it was peoples reluctance to say they were voting for a right-wing “extremist” actor from California. But that same reluctance did not prevent voters from electing Ronald Reagan.
Based on anecdotal evidence only, I believe many in the Jewish community are reluctant to say they might stray from tradition and vote for Romney. But when they get into the booth…..
4) Barack Obama is still black. OK here’s were I get called racist, but the truth is the truth. Based on our 2,000 year history Jews gravitate to helping the oppressed. In 2008 many Jews drank the Obama kool-ade because they were in love with the idea of an African-American winning the presidency. It was such a great American story. Many of Obama’s first supporters were Jews and it was so important to see a black man elected to the White House, they forgot about everything else.
Four years later, Barack Obama is still black, but it doesn’t hold the same cache as it did four years ago. It is no longer about electing the first African-American president..been there..done that. The Jewish vote is more susceptible to issues rather than “statements.”
5) No Sarah Palin-Let me start out by stating I like Sarah Palin and I thought she would make a great vice -president. Before the Republican Convention in 2008, John McCain was tracking at around 30% of the Jewish vote and trending up, because of suspicion of Barack Obama’s feelings regarding Israel (which turned out to be very true). When Sarah Palin became his vice-presidential candidate tow things happened at once. First, many Jews are suspicious of Christians who talk about their faith. They are also suspicious of Jews who talk about their faith. Sarah Palin made them feel antsy from the get-go. And when people like Marty Peretz and Ed Koch, combined with the leadership of many national Jewish organization began to vouch for Obama’s positions on Israel the move to Obama began. The final nail in the coffin was the media’s mistreatment of Governor Palin. Since they were already suspicious because of her openness about faith it was easy for them to believe the nonsense coming from the mainstream media.
The bottom line is, this ain’t 2008 and I strongly believe based on many of the above factors that Obama will lose a big chunk of his Jewish support in 2012. Some will switch to Romney, some will skip the presidential line and some will just stay home. Either of these scenarios, or combination of, will hurt Obama in some key states.