September 12 2011
The Elephant in the NY-9 Room: Obama's Problem with Jewish Voters
If there was any doubt as to how the public feels about President Obama these days, look no further than tomorrow's special election in New York's ninth congressional district - the seat that Rep. Anthony Weiner once held.
Like midterm elections, special elections are often a referendum on the party in power; but it's especially concerning to Democrats that GOP candidate Bob Turner is expected to defeat Democratic state Assemblyman David Weprin in a solidly blue district. (Al Gore won NY-9 in 2000 with 67 percent of the vote and Barack Obama took it by 11-points against John McCain in 2008).
According to a Siena College poll released at the end of last week, Turner held a strong 6-point lead over Weprin. And not unrelated, Obama maintains a 43 percent approval rating and 54 percent disapproval rating.
While the consensus is that Weprin's predicted loss is a function of Obama's failed economic policies and his low approval ratings, it's hard to ignore the elephant in the room: Obama's growing problem with Jewish voters. As Matt Brooks, Executive Director of the Republican Jewish Coalition made clear in a press release today, "this race highlights the serious problems that President Obama has in the Jewish community because of his policies regarding Israel. Without question, Obama's policies are causing significant numbers of Jewish voters to re-examine their loyalty to the Democratic Party."
And Brooks isn't being glib. A closer look at the district and the poll numbers reveals just how deep Obama's troubles with the Jewish community really are. For starters, NY-9 is the most heavily-Jewish congressional district in the United States and registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by 3 to 1. But it gets worse - and a lot more personal.
Israel has been a leading issue in the campaign, and as Commentary reports Weprin has desperately attempted "to make the case that he will be a stalwart spokesman for Israel and hold Barack Obama's feet to the fire on the subject." Similarly, former NY Mayor Ed Koch (D) (who has supported Republicans on the issue of Israel in the past) endorsed Turner back in July, noting that President Obama is "willing to throw [Israel] under the bus." Similarly, fellow Democratic state assemblyman Dov Hikind has also thrown his weight behind Republican Turner.
Many in the Jewish community ignored warning signs that Obama would not be a stalwart supporter of Israel throughout the 2008 presidential campaign. But after a host of anti-Israel measures (his decision to use the UN as a stage for demanding an end to settlements, his lack of clarity over Jerusalem as Israel's capital, his cancelling a presidential meeting with Netanyahu, and of course his call for a return to pre-1967 borders) he has finally caught the (full) attention of Jewish voters.
And in NY-9 tomorrow the chickens may come home to roost.