It's the Economy, Putz

New polling from Gallup shows the president’s support among Jewish voters has dropped to 64 percent from 74 percent during the 2008 elections. Though the Gallup report noted that Jewish voters, at 2 percent of the population, “typically are not critical” in determining presidential elections, in a state like Florida, where Jews were 4 percent of the electorate in 2008, such support could be crucial in the electoral battle. 

Some conservative commentators have interpreted the president’s lower numbers among Jewish voters as a referendum on his stances toward Israel; Obama called for a settlement freeze in 2009 and set Israel's pre-1967 borders as the starting point for negotiations to create a Palestinian state.  Liz Cheney summed up their message at the most recent AIPAC convention, asserting that "there is no president who has done more to delegitimize and destabilize the State of Israel.” Unless unprecedented levels of aid, public shows of support, and military cooperation are all part of our president’s secret plot to bring about Israel’s end, anyone who believes Obama is anti-Israel does so despite mountains of evidence to the contrary.

More important, though, is that Israel is not a defining issue for Jewish voters. According to a poll released in late May, issues pertaining to Israel are practically irrelevant in predicting how Jewish voters cast their ballots, and Jewish voters rank Israel below jobs and the economy. 

Overwhelmingly, American Jews support progressive social and economic policies. The recent drop in support reflects discontent about the state of the economy, not the exodus from the Democratic Party that the right has been seeking to foment. The underlying political beliefs of American Jews have not changed, and certainly not over the issue of Israel.

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