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As Mitt Romney begins his excellent adventure in Israel, it's worth noting the many advantages he enjoys over his former Republican rivals when it comes to courting Jewish voters. For starters, Romney considers Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "my friend," one with whom he shares "common experiences" and "can speak in shorthand." (Whether or not Bibi feels the same way is another matter.) Meanwhile, casino mogul Sheldon Adelson is not only pouring millions of dollars into Romney's campaign and GOP outreach to Jewish voters in the U.S., but has already provided his Israel Hayom paper as a friendly megaphone in advance of Romney's arrival in Jerusalem. And unlike most of the GOP's would-have-been White House hopefuls, Mitt hasn't declared either that God called him to run for president or that Jews will serve as biblically mandated cannon fodder heralding the Second Coming of Christ.

But while Mitt Romney's slanders about President Obama "throwing Israel under the bus" and tough talk on Iran may yet be enough to have an impact in states like Florida and Ohio, the prospects for major GOP inroads among Jewish voters remain dim. As the polling shows, on almost every issue Republican orthodoxy simply isn't kosher with Jewish Americans.

A recent Gallup survey showed that Barack Obama enjoys a 68 to 25 percent edge over Mitt Romney among Jewish voters. While that margin is less than Obama's 78-21 win over John McCain in the 2008 election, it's only a few points smaller than the gap at the same point four years ago. A poll conducted two months by the Berman Jewish Policy Archive at New York University revealed why the Jewish community continues to reliably vote for Democrats, "election cycle after election cycle":

The poll, which has a four percent margin of error, also found high support among Jews not just for social causes they have long championed including gay marriage (68 percent support) and access to legal abortion (63 percent favor) , but on economic issues such as taxation. Sixty-five percent said they support raising income tax for those who earn above $200,000 a year and 62 percent said they thought the power of financial institutions pose a threat to the United States.

The survey also found that 73 percent of those polled favored the government requiring private health insurance to cover birth control.

As Haaretz noted in reporting on the survey, "Israel related issues seem to have little effect on Jewish voters' decision in choosing between Obama and Romney." That finding echoed the results of an April poll conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute, a not-for-profit, nonpartisan organization:
A majority of 51% pointed to the economy as the issue most important to their vote, followed by gaps between rich and poor (15%), health care (10%) and the federal deficit (7%). Only 4% of Jewish voters said Israel was the most important issue for them when deciding who should get their vote. Even when asked to name their second-most-important issue, Jewish voters gave the issue of Israel only marginal importance.

The data would suggest that the Republicans' focus on attacking both Obama's record on Israel and his troubled relations with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was having little, if any, traction.

The PRRI study showed a Jewish electorate that is perhaps the single most liberal voting bloc in the United States:
Jews strongly believe that the government should play a greater role in reducing gaps between rich and poor, and an overwhelming majority of them support the "Buffett Rule," which calls for increasing taxes for the rich. Most Jews (52%) state they'll agree to pay more taxes to fund programs that help the poor...They strongly supported abortion rights (93%), same-sex marriage (81%) and environmental regulation (69%). They said the Supreme Court should not overturn health care laws.
"Whoever wants to appeal to Jewish voters has to go through social values," CEO Robert Jones explained. "Our poll shows that you cannot appeal to these voters through the single issue of Israel." GOP spin meister Frank Luntz agreed:
"Concerns about Obama and Israel have been trumped by the right-wing language of Republican candidates. The Jewish community is looking at the fight over abortions and contraceptives and religion, and they don't like it."
And they didn't like it four years ago, either. In 2008, Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin reminded Jewish voters why they vote Democratic.

(Continue reading below the fold.)

Four years ago, Republicans had high hopes of peeling away Jewish voters from the Democratic Party. Pointing to Barack Obama's name and his former pastor, Jewish Republican groups called Obama "naive and dangerous" who as president could trigger a second Holocaust. But despite their early optimism, Obama's ultimate Jewish support on Election Day was little different than other Democratic candidates past.

As it turned, out, a key factor in John McCain's failure to get American Jews to choose him was his choice of Sarah Palin as his running mate. In the run-up to the 2008 election, Newsweek reported that "Palin may hurt McCain among Jewish voters." The dynamics in Florida, later carried by Barack Obama, were particularly telling:

Many Florida Jews who had previously been open to McCain appear to share the couple's aversion to Palin, according to political scientists, polling data and anecdotal reporting. "She stands for all the wrong things in the eyes of the Jewish community," says Kenneth Wald, a professor at the University of Florida. Among the examples he cites: Palin seems to disdain intellectualism, she's a vociferous opponent of gun control and she attended a fundamentalist church that hosted Jews for Jesus, which seeks to convert Jews to Christianity. (Palin apparently sat through a speech by a leader of the group in which he said terrorist attacks on Israel were punishment for Israelis' failure to accept Jesus as the Messiah.)
Despite polling that suggested Obama lagging among Jewish voters traditionally loyal to Democrats, the Illinois senator ultimately maintained his party's hold on its vital constituency. Despite the fear-mongering of the McCain campaign and state GOP operatives, Obama dominated among Jews by 78 percent to 21 percent. By way of comparison, John Kerry (74 percent to 25 percent for Bush) and Al Gore (80 percent to 17 percent) scored about the same as Barack Hussein Obama with American Jews. As Newsweek concluded:
"There's no question that Obama came into this election with probably less going for him than most Democratic nominees," says Wald. But the Palin pick "probably blunted any gains the Republicans had made."
In an article titled, "I Find Her Offensive," Salon echoed that finding. "John McCain was making a bid for South Florida's Jewish voters, a crucial demographic in a purple state," Tristram Korten wrote, "But then he chose Sarah Palin as a running mate."

Mitt Romney probably won't make a similar mistake. But given the limits on his ability to get Jewish voters to leave the Democratic Party, his real purpose in heading to the Holy Land may be to turn out the evangelical base so devoted to his Republican Party.

And those two objectives can work at cross-purposes. For Christian Zionists like Michele Bachmann ("Support for Israel is handed down by God and if the United States pulls back its support, America will cease to exist"), Rick Perry ("As a Christian I have a clear directive to support Israel") and Mike Huckabee ("no such thing as a Palestinian"), Israel serves merely as a means to an end. In that telling, it is a divinely required stepping stone to the End Times conversion (and much larger slaughter) of the Jews that will accompany the Second Coming of Christ. And that has a real impact on foreign policy. As the controversial head of the Christians United for Israel, Pastor John Hagee, explained in 2006:

"The United States must join Israel in a pre-emptive military strike against Iran to fulfill God's plan for both Israel and the West...a biblically prophesied end-time confrontation with Iran, which will lead to the Rapture, Tribulation, and Second Coming of Christ."
Last year, Texas Gov. and momentary GOP frontrunner Rick Perry led an event called "The Response," featuring "praying people asking God's forgiveness, wisdom and provision for our state and nation." As Perry said to the assembled multitudes in Houston:
"Like all of you, I Iove this country deeply...indeed the only thing that you love more is the living Christ."
Evangelicals may have loved the message, but Jews not so much. As syndicated columnist Jacob Sollum answered Gov. Perry:
"My response to The Response: No, thanks. My people have managed without Jesus for thousands of years. Why start now?"
As Mitt Romney visits Israel, the same might be said about the Republican Party.
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Comment Preferences

  •  Don't forget the dual-nationals in Israel. (6+ / 0-)

    They vote republican 3 to 1.

    Romney’s arrival in Israel on Saturday will follow a five day get-out-the-Republican-vote drive in Jerusalem in mid-July, launched by the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC). Ari Fleischer, George W. Bush’s press secretary, and Matt Brooks, RJC’s Executive Director, have been desperately trying to entice the 77% of Jewish Americans who traditionally vote Democrat to join the Romney camp. The nearly 164,000 American Jews and dual nationals who make their homes in Israel tend to be more religious — and more politically conservative — than their non-expat coreligionists in the US, and reportedly vote Republican by a 3 to 1 margin. The RJC estimates that there are 150,000 potential voters in Israel who could swing the 2012 election in Romney’s favor. Romney’s Israel visit is the crown jewel of the RJC campaign, which targets not only the third largest American expatriate community in the world (Canada and Mexico rank first and second, the UK ranks fourth), but Jewish voters in the US, as well as evangelical Christians who harbor doubts about Romney.

    Ironically, the RJC’s prospects for success have been enhanced by measures implemented by the Obama administration in 2009 that make it easier for Americans living abroad to vote. While Republican governors are doing everything they can to make voting more complicated and difficult in their own states such as implementing increasingly bureaucratic registration procedures and more stringent voter ID laws, the voting rights of the 6.32 million Americans living abroad are protected by the Federal Voting Assistance Program. Expats, some of whom may never have lived in the US, can quickly and easily register to vote and get an absentee ballot via a secure and user friendly website. The absentee ballot can be printed out, filled in, then scanned and emailed or snail-mailed back to election officials in the last state of residence.

    The RJC drive to amass votes for Romney in Israel points to an emerging paradox of which the RJC hopes to take advantage; it is now easier than ever for Americans living abroad to vote in a US election while an increasing number of obstacles confront American voters who live on US soil. In other words, block the vote here, rock the vote there!


    Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.

    by Flyswatterbanjo on Sat Jul 28, 2012 at 01:12:05 PM PDT

  •  Romney has cut off press access in Israel (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DRo, ParkRanger, Larsstephens
  •  I don't want to stereotype (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SoCalSal, luckylizard, Larsstephens

    as I live in a 80% Jewish community all winter, but these folks are highly intelligent and "high information" voters, and as a result the majority would fit your survey results--progressive. I also have wonderful conversations with them about Israeli politics, which is far more diverse than our press reveals.

    I think it's important to realize that no single group has a single opinion, but also to acknowledge that research is worth it.

  •  Evangelical Christianists (6+ / 0-)

    interest in Israel is all about the second coming of Christ, not loving the Jewish people.

    Anybody in that extremist (and unChristian as far as I'm concerned) movement casting Obama as a figure in 'a second Holocaust' is taking chutzpah to a new level considering the backstory to all of this Israeli flagwaving boosterism amongst the 'the endtime is neigh' crowd. Nobody who stands next to a Pat Hagee gets to say anybody else is suspect and untrustworthy about having only the best of intentions for anyone or anything Jewish.

    I have told Jewish people that I've known who were curious about the Religious Right's "love" of Israel and the Jewish people to beware since I was a teenager. I grew up with Hal Lindsey's "The Late Great Planet Earth" because we had born-again neighbors when I was a kid and they kept giving these books to my parents. The idea was they needed to "save" my mother because she was... Catholic. You get a lot of dancing around the hard stuff until you get the scary naked truth from the true believers. Hal Lindsey was smart enough never to really come out and say, "Hi, I'm a big believer that God is only basically using the Jews like a pawn on a chessboard, the long game that I believe in is a basically a second holocaust. But it's for the best. Really." But that is basically the point that is always there. 'The Jews are screwed if they stay Jews'.

    You can't survive the endtimes without Jesus, and that includes the Jews who survive the horrors until judgement. You have to read between the lines a lot, but eventually somebody will come right out and say it when they trust you or they think the time is right to say it bluntly.

    Israel is like a kind of trigger in the endtimes mythology, it has its use, and then, when it's not useful anymore, its just like everybody else. Grease for the wheel, fodder for the cannon, and then become born again or die. It's necessary to get the political stars aligned to get Jesus back, the Anti-Christ in power, and get the great global slaughter started. Beware of the Christian Right if your care about Israel or the Jewish people, because if you dig into their entime mythology they dream of genocide. Yours.

    Once Jesus comes back, and the dire awful Tribulations than Evangelicals long for (because, in theory, they will be raptured away and get to watch the greatest revenge fantasy in history from the safety of Heaven), the Jewish people are completely screwed in the endtime story that underpins Dispensationalism.

    Anti-Christ comes, billions slaughtered in wars, dying of famine and disease, and when Satan finally loses, there is a reckoning. Satan, the Anti-Christ, and his surviving legions are chained together and cast screaming into a lake of fire, and then Jesus rules over Earth for a thousand years of peace.  

    If you are Jewish, this reckoning part of the endtimes myth should scare the shit out of you that your "friends" want it to happen.

    In fact, if you want to see some serious squirming, be in the presence of an "endtime" scholar when a Jewish person asks "I'm a Jew, I believe he was a prophet but I don't believe that Jesus is the son of God or the key to my salvation, what, ultimately, happens to me?"

    Squirming hardly seems worthy of the spinning and dancing that comes next.

    The Jewish people, who don't get Raptured (as they are not saved) who have had to suffer the worst of the worst abuse as their homeland is the very heart of the massive war to end all wars, after literally years of great suffering and years of great slaughter and, at the great reckoning, they are given a last choice.

    Convert to Christianity... declare that Jesus Christ is your personal Lord and Savior.... or die and rot in Hell with the fetid others.

    At Angels swordpoint, no less, your own God oversees your mass slaughter and the ultimate eradication of all things Jewish.

    Your own God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, Noah, David, and Moses orders his legions of angels to put those who don't become Christian to the sword. Then to cast the bodies into the lake of fire with the Anti-Christ, the Devil, the hoards of demons, and the survivors of the Anti-Christs human legions on Earth.

    Since 1982, the first time I heard this tale, I've heard it repeated dozens of times. The neighbors who tried to convent my mom. The pastor at my friends youth group after he became born-again out of the blue while I tried to stay friends with this new person I hardly recognized. I have wingnut born-agains in my family, as my cousin married a girl from Reagan country who is a Bush 2000 Bush 2004 still on the pick-up trucks MegaChurcher all the way.

    You have to dig deep to get to this part of the Endtimes mythology. This is not a part of their dogma they want to be discussed widely, as the Religious Right has cloaked their support of Israel as being, well, support of Israel for Israel's sake. Pastor Hagee can't stand next to Netanyahu on a stage if this is widely known is Israel and stateside among non-Evangelical Christian Conservatives.

    Besides your peers having liberal beliefs as a demographics in terms of policy, just in terms of basic self-preservation why would you enable this if you were conservative and Jewish?

    Why would you stand with these people if you support Israel as a national defense hawk? The whole 'second holocaust' thing is a big part of the endtimes plan.

    How the fuck is this shit not something the Religious Right and the Republican Right in general is not having to deal with as they are eternally flinging Israel and Israeli security in everybody else's faces as if they can be trusted on that front?

    Kind of hard to square all the Rightwing handwringing about Iran and the Bomb with, well, "we bascially have a time limit on our support, because, in the end, we think your own God is going to slaughter you and cast you into eternal fire if you don't become Christians when the shit goes down."

    Movement Conservative Republicans and Evangelical Christians alike have both been given a huge pass on this vile crap. They believe this stuff is going to happen someday. Being close to Israel is believed, very passionately, to be vitally necessary for the endtimes to go down as predicted. Movement Conservative activists know this crowd believes this shit too. Cynicism is as much a part of being a Movement Conservative activist as hypocrisy and lying are.

    Why don't they ever have to answer for this?

    We, as liberals, or at least as non-Movement Conservatives, all seem to know that there is something dark there. We bring it up all the time. Somebody says something on the 700 Club. Pat Hagee comes up in the news. Shouldn't we, or somebody, bring this up in a pointed way at some point?

    'What Hitler couldn't do in the Holocaust, your own God is going to do to you, to complete our great revenge fantasy on every non-Evangelical Christian Conservative on Earth?'

    Talk about Anti-Semitism.

    In an age where very pointed accusations of Anti-Semitism are sometimes very quick to be flung no less.

    These pricks have no business talking shit about how "Obama isn't really good for Israel or for the Jews". Yeah. Says the nutbags cheerleading for a billions of all race, religions, and creeds to die in a second holocaust for their amusement. The slaughter they get to skip and watch from the sky, and the cynical RW Movement Conservative Pols who get all the benefits of parastically living off of this insanity but never have to answer for its really really dark dark side.

    It's weird to live in a country where the people who have the darkest of dark intentions for the Jewish people possible also get to cast themselves as the ultimate friends of Israel and the self-appointed judges of who is, and who is not, a "friend" of the Jewish people.

    I think it's clear that Jews don't vote for these peopel because they are one of the most liberal demographics in the nation, but every Jewish American who doesn't know this stuff should have this to consider as well. What is the Movement Conservative activst of Jewish descent's excuse for ignoring this? I don't believe for a second that Bill Kristol doesn't know what Pastor Pat Hagee really believes in.

    It's about a lot more than simply choosing not be believe that Jesus is the son of God, but otherwise being arm in arm singing kumbayah on foreign policy issues. Even Iran's Supreme Leader doesn't believe that the God of Moses is going to help slaughter every Jewish person on Earth for some Christianist group of crazies massive revenge fantasy.

    Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has nothing on the American Religious Right, I have a MegaChurch not ten minutes away from my home that probably has a youth pastor who could give the hardest hardliner on the Supreme Council in Iran a run for his money on having ill intent for the Jewish people.


    I am from the Elizabeth Warren and Darcy Burner wing of the Democratic Party

    by LeftHandedMan on Sat Jul 28, 2012 at 02:26:05 PM PDT

  •  yet. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    And unlike most of the GOP's would-have-been White House hopefuls, Mitt hasn't declared either that God called him to run for President or that Jews will serve as biblically-mandated cannon fodder heralding the Second Coming of Christ.

    Präsidentenelf-maßschach"Nous sommes un groupuscule" (-9.50; -7.03) "Ensanguining the skies...Falls the remorseful day".政治委员, 政委‽ Warning - some snark above ‽

    by annieli on Sat Jul 28, 2012 at 04:20:27 PM PDT

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