President Obama's re-election proves once again that no matter how badly a Democrat acts against the Jews' interests, they'll still keep voting for him anyway
With a list of swing states painted blue as the vote count proceeded, Obama’s Democratic victory was clinched with narrow predicted victories in the battleground states of Florida and Ohio, both with significant Jewish populations.
Obama cemented his win by keeping a firm grip on the Democratic base, including Jewish liberals, along with a massive victory among African Americans and a huge win among Latinos.
Jewish Republicans have conducted their largest ever mobilization of activists and of funds, arguing that Obama, now poised to enter his second term in the White House, would maintain an unfriendly attitude toward Israel. The results of this massive Republican effort, according to exit polls conducted on election day, are mixed.
The early data indicates that 70% of Jewish voters chose Barack Obama, a slight decline compared to the 2008 election in which Obama won 74% of the vote according to a compilation of national and local exit polls. (Republicans maintain that Obama’s showing last night among Jewish voters should be compared to his national exit poll outcome in 2008 which was 78%.) Either way, the polls reflect some decline in the support of Jewish voters for the Democrats.In contrast, you will recall that last week I reported that American Jews living in Israel voted for Romney over Obama 85-14%. Are American Jews and Israeli Jews out of touch with each other?
Florida, one of three key swing states that determined the election and the prime target of Republican and Democratic Jewish outreach effort, seemed to have been a bit more receptive to the Republican message, with 34% of Jewish voters, according to exit polls, voting Romney. Still, the heavily Jewish populated counties of Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade, voted heavily toward Obama, accounting for his narrow lead in the state.
I don't believe that American and Israeli Jews are out of touch with each other. I don't have the numbers to prove this yet, but my guess is that the Orthodox Jewish numbers in the US will be very close to those Israeli numbers. That's partly because most American Jews who move to Israel are Orthodox, and partly because American Jews, like their Israeli counterparts, make Israel, rather than abortion rights or gay marriage, their top concern.
What Israel might need to work on is convincing American Jews of the importance of supporting Israel. That may sound surreal 64 years after the Jewish state declared its independence, but as the Holocaust recedes into memory, the younger generation just doesn't see the importance of a Jewish state. And that's partly because many of them have a very weak sense of Jewish identification. They've never been to Israel, and they've probably not had a whole lot of Jewish education.
Alternatively, we can wait around for most of the uncommitted Jews to intermarry and then the remaining Jewish vote will be strongly pro-Israel and, if current trends continue, more Republican. That seems to be what's happening anyway.
Recall this chart: