Daily Kos headline:
No one could’ve ever predicted that Jewish voters would support Obama…
Why not? They have traditionally voted Democratic. Even when Ronald Reagan got his huge landslide in 1980, he only got 35% — Jimmy Carter got 45% and independent John Anderson 14. In 1972, 65% of Jews voted for McGovern when he was massively trounced by Nixon.
In fact, since 1916 (the earliest election listed in the source linked above), the only times the Democratic candidate got less than a majority of the Jewish vote were in 1980 and in 1920, when it was split between the Democrat, James M. Cox (ever heard of him?) and Socialist Eugene V. Debs!
So why is Markos surprised?
The great majority of Jews in the US are secular or at least non-Orthodox. Many Orthodox Jews, interestingly, do support McCain, but they comprise only a small percentage of all American Jews. Non-Orthodox Jews are overwhelmingly liberal, and most of their political opinions closely align with those of Obama. The only issue about which one might expect there to be a divergence is — Israel.
It is very, very difficult to predict what a candidate’s policy will be in office. Especially about hot-button issues, they are all very careful to say all of the right things to avoid alienating important constituencies, and for Obama the Jews — with large populations in Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania and other important states — are such a constituency.
But you can make guesses based on the advisors a candidate chooses (even when he sometimes fires them), his associations and his supporters. In terms of his likely Israel policy, Obama does not look especially good in this respect. And Kos and others recognize this.
So he is surprised that Jews are apparently ignoring this issue. He shouldn’t be. The bad news is that most liberal American Jews have long since lost any special feeling for Israel. For most, it is “just another country“.
Unfortunately for those of us who do care about Israel, there’s little reason to believe that the Republican policy — if it is anything like the Bush Administration’s — will be any better. See my previous post (“expensive futility“) for why. And there are plenty of other good reasons not to return the Republican party to office.
Now I’ve irritated everyone.