The NY Times’ Jodi Kantor figuratively wrung her hands recently about Barack Obama’s supposed difficulty in winning over Florida’s alter cocker Jewish vote. It was what I call “anecdotal journalism.” Not the most precise form of news reporting: Aunt Sadie says he’s a Muslim. Uncle Hymie says he’s soft on Israel. There were all sorts of ominous portents for his presidential candidacy: if he can’t win over Jewish voters in the primary what will happen in the general election? Can McCain pull a Reagan and win a substantial portion of the Jewish vote and deprive Obama of a much-needed base of support?
According to exit polls conducted in 30 primary states, Jewish Democratic primary voters overall supported Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama – 53 percent chose Clinton compared to 45% who chose Obama.
…Although Jewish Democratic voters favored Clinton in the primaries, Jewish registered voters overall say they would support either Obama or Clinton in a November match-up with McCain. According to CBS News Polls conducted from February to May, both Obama and Clinton would win among Jewish voters nationally by a comfortable margin.
If the candidates were Obama and McCain, the polls show Obama would get 65 percent of the vote of Jewish registered voters to 28 percent for McCain. If the candidates were Clinton and McCain, Clinton would get 68 percent to 26 percent for McCain.
And Jewish registered voters have a more favorable opinion of Obama (61 percent) than they do of Clinton (51 percent), though both are viewed favorably.
In my critique of Kantor’s piece I predicted Obama would get 70-80% of the Jewish vote—right on target for recent Democratic presidential candidates. Given that he already has 65%, I expect that figure will rise substantially once the general election campaign gets underway in earnest, and I expect my prediction will be precisely right. John McCain will be a marginal candidate for most American Jews despite the “enormous lift” Joltin’ Joe Lieberman’s going to give him.
So as you read all the coverage of the annual AIPAC shebang this week and read about the standing ovation McCain got for slamming Obama and the tepid response (maybe even some boos?) Obama will get tomorrow, don’t forget that it means very little. AIPAC doesn’t represent American Jews. It represents the American Jewish ‘corporate’ elite. The corporate elite doesn’t “lead” so much as cheerlead its own narrow set of views and values which aren’t shared by much of the rest of us. I only regret that Holocaust Hagee will not be delivering the keynote address as he did last year. It was so much fun to document the lunacy he preached to AIPAC which was received with multiple standing ovations.
AIPAC is like a fun house mirror. You stand in front of it and watch as your entire body is distorted out of all proportion. That’s the relation of AIPAC to the real American Jewish body politic. If AIPAC is a fun house mirror that would make its annual convention a carnival sideshow.