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The Sleeper Issue Waking Up?

I've been saying for a while now that Obama's hostility to Israel might be the sleeper issue in a few election contests this fall, even without the assist of the egregious Helen Thomas.  Our pals over at Powerline offer some evident that the Jewish vote may be starting to swing over, as it did in 1980, when Reagan got a historic (for a Republican) 35 - 40 percent of the Jewish vote because of Carter's Israelphobia.
Categories > Elections

Discussions - 8 Comments

Percent Jewish vote going to Republicans, 1976 - 2008 presidential election cycles:

(L) 1976, Ford, 27%
(W) 1980, Reagan, 39%
(W) 1984, Reagan, 31%
(W) 1988, Bush, 35%
(L) 1992, Bush, 11%
(L) 1996, Dole, 16%
(W) 2000, Bush, 19%
(W) 2004, Bush, 24%
(L) 2008, McCain, 22%

Why the 11% for Bush 1992? Was that perhaps because he launched the first Gulf War and put Israel in jeopardy?

Why this general trend exists baffles me. Republicans have been pretty consistent supporters of Israel; Democrats less so.

Let's assume the percent shifts against Obama. Any speculation how long it'll stay shifted? My guess? Only as long as the attention span holds.

Don--Bush I was competing against the political Mensch, Clinton in 1992. Moreover, his Sec of State Jim Baker was not perceived as a friend of Israel. I'm surprised more by the increase of the Jewish vote to 19% for Bush II in 2000, given Lieberman's presence on the D ticket.

No offense, but the above two comments seem to be from people who don't know many American Jews. There is no mystery about the Jewish preference for Democrats; American Jews (aside from the Orthodox) are overwhelmingly lefty in their politics, particularly on social issues (abortion and church-state issues most of all). This tendency has only become more ingrained over the years, long ago took precedence over concern for Israel (again, excepting the Orthodox), and is exacerbated as the younger generation feels much less connection to Israel than their parents and grandparents.

As to Bush I's poor showing in 1992, it was not just James Baker; that administration was notably cool toward Israel, and was continually in conflict with the rightwing Israeli government (led by Shamir of Likud) of the time. In those long-ago days, American Jews were far less hostile to the Israeli right than they are now. Of course, in comparison with the current administration, George H.W. Bush looks like Israel's guardian angel.

I add that the Jewish vote will shift somewhat against Obama in 2012, but, no matter how much he endangers and slights Israel, his share of the Jewish vote will not decline below 65%. NonOrthodox Jews - to the extent Jewish identity still matters to them - have more or less adopted the Democratic Party platform as their Torah. The great majority of those who say they care about Israel will tell themselves whatever lies are necessary to justify pulling the lever for BHO.

Mabye its just that zionism is more important to neo conservatives then it is to ethnic and religious jews in America.

If they were Zionists they wouldn't be in America, would they?

The nonOrthodox "religious" Jews, who are among Obama's most ardent supporters, are not very religious in terms of observance or belief. The Orthodox are "religious" in that sense, and they strongly support Israel against Obama, whether or not they fall within the category of "neoconservatives."

The comment seems to suppose that there's some sort of conflict between supporting Israel and being a religious Jew. Strange.

I think it's a combination of 1) heritage effect, and 2) self-interest. In terms of heritage, so many Jews who migrated to America had caught the socialist disease, and subsequently their children were all red diaper babies. Given that Jews had a higher college-attendance rate, they became a fairly high proportion of this nation's professoriate, thereby radicalizing future generations. They live like Republicans, but vote like Puerto Ricans (in that old phrase, which I've probably garbled).

In terms of self-interest, they have always felt (with much justification) like an oppressed minority group. I suspect that, in the minds of many American Jews, anything that disrupts majority power is a good thing. Just my impression (although that doesn't endear them to many folks, although I think it is at least understandable).

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