For generations, American Jews have voted for the Democratic Party. But the political website Politico has dedicated some of its digital ink recently on whether President Obama may have put the Jewish vote in jeopardy.
First, a brief history about the so-called "Jewish vote." Franklin Roosevelt is widely credited with swaying a Jewish majority to vote for the Democratic Party, because he had Jewish member of his Cabinet (Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau) and successfully fought the Nazis in World War II. Yet according to the Jewish Virtual Library, American Jews started to lean Democratic in the 1920s, going for John Davis and Al Smith in losing efforts. Roosevelt reinforced the trend, enjoying over 80% of the Jewish vote in all four of his terms, and the Democratic Party hasn't lost it since. Dwight Eisenhower was the last Republican to earn even 40% of Jewish voters, though Ronald Reagan reached 39%. In the last twenty years, Bill Clinton, Al Gore, John Kerry and Barack Obama have enjoyed over 75% Jewish support.
However, Obama has come under fire in recent months for his policy towards Israel, an issue close to many Jewish voters. Two months ago, Obama called for Israeli-Palestinian two-state negotiations based on 1967 borders, which some claimed undermined Israeli authority. Today, the White House said it would negotiate with the Muslim Brotherhood, an organization that does not recognize Israel. Yet Obama has reaffirmed his support for Israel, funding Israeli anti-missile systems and declaring at the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC conference in May, "Even while we may at times disagree, as friends sometimes will, the bonds between the United States and Israel are unbreakable, and the commitment of the United States to the security of Israel is ironclad."
In response to this issue, Politico devoted some of its coverage on the issue of the Jewish vote:
In a three-page piece article, Ben Smith writes that "Obama may be losing the faith of Jewish Democrats". Smith says he spoke to dozens of Jewish leaders and donors, and when it comes to Obama and the Jewish community, he declares: "Based on the conversations with POLITICO, it's hard to resist the conclusion that some kind of tipping point has been reached."
Attached to the article is a video of Politico's Patrick Gavin on MSNBC's "Morning Joe." The approximately minute-and-a-half clip discusses Obama and the Jewish vote. Gavin reminds viewers that "the reality is that we do tend to hear this every four years," but there is "anxiety" in some Jewish circles. The same video appears in the article on the Muslim Brotherhood, further bringing the point home.
There is also an opinion piece by former Democratic Rep. Ron Klein of Florida, saying that "Jewish voters will stick by Obama". Klein asserts that Obama "is showing profound and mature leadership, and while ultimately, it is up to the parties themselves, we cannot give up."
The debate page, Arena, asked the question, "Is President Obama's Jewish support slipping?" Over two dozen contributors weighed in, including former Congressional members, CEOs and members of academia.
Meanwhile, Republicans are hoping to take advantage of the situation and reverse the Jewish Democratic trend in 2012. Presidential hopefuls have been particularly tough on Obama's policies towards Israel, an issue close to many Jewish voters. Among the outcry after Obama's borders plan, former governor Mitt Romney remarked that Obama "has thrown Israel under the bus," while Rep. Ron Paul added, "Unlike this President, I do not believe it is our place to dictate how Israel runs her affairs."
Recently, in a foreign policy speech, Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty said, "It breaks my heart that President Obama treats Israel, our great friend, as a problem, rather than as an ally." Rep. Michele Bachmann also mentioned Israel during her candidacy announcement, saying, "We can't afford four more years of a foreign policy that leads from behind and doesn't stand up for our friends, like Israel, and [that] too often fails to stand up to our enemies."
It will be interesting to see how Politico and other media organizations report on this issue going forward and if they pay similar attention to other minority voters.
Do you think President Obama is losing the Jewish vote?
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