Misperceptions About the Jewish Vote

Thursday, November 13th, 2008

James Besser in Washington

At a party the other night, I was pressed to talk about the election (actually, after more than a year, it might be nice to talk about something else for a change, like the changing leaves or the stock market…well, scratch the stock market).

This was a gathering mostly of liberal non-Jews who were delighted with Barack Obama’s election. And to a person, they had a wildly inaccurate view of how Jewish voters voted on November 4.

“They voted for McCain, right?” asserted one.

Another challenged that. “No, it was about 50-50,” he said.

When I said that exit polls showed that 77 or 78 percent of Jewish voters went for the Obama-Biden ticket, they were surprised, even disbelieving.

That leads to this question: as Obama presides over what could be a significant realignment toward the Democrats and a possible revival of overt liberalism, will Jews be seen for what they were in 2008 – just about the strongest supporter of Obama of any non-African American segment of the electorate?

Or will more than a year of spin about how the Jewish vote was shifting rightward and stories about the harsh rumors about Obama that spread in recurring waves through the Jewish community lead to the perception that the Jews had jumped the Democratic ship?

It’s interesting how Jewish Democrat have not had much luck getting that story out in the general press.  Maybe they’re too busy celebrating.  Or maybe the press isn’t all that interested, now that it is evident there was no seismic shift of Jewish voters.

About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.