But let’s grant that I’m wrong about all of the above and that this really was a message from the district’s Jews to Obama and the Democrats to get with the Israeli program. Does that mean that we can expect Jews to abandon the president and his party in significant numbers in 2012? Again, not so much. In the first place, most American Jews are secular and extremely supportive of both gay marriage and liberal reproductive-choice laws, unlike their orthodox counterparts. They vote on a multiplicity of concerns, of which Israel is a part, but hardly, for most of them, the determining factor. Second, despite what you might read in the harrumphing columns of neoconservative Jewish pundits, most Jews are not really so verklempt about Obama’s policies toward Israel. The pro-peace, pro-Israel group J-Street did a poll last year and found that 71 percent of American Jews questioned supported the U.S. “exerting pressure” on all parties in the Palestinian conflict, including Israel. A clear majority supported the belief that an American administration should publicly disagree with the Israeli government when it felt it had a different view. And to top it all off, Israel came in a mere seventh among concerns of American Jews in determining their votes in 2010.
Typically in a district with a preponderance of old Jews, Democrats are able to play the “he’s going to cut your Social Security and Medicare” cards, but in this case, with Obama reportedly offering to do those things himself, the issue was lost. This brings us to the proverbial elephant in the room: the economy, which, in case you haven’t noticed, is pretty lousy. The president’s approval ratings just hit an all time low with only 41 percent of American adults approving of his job performance, according to a recent Gallup poll. So the fact that Democrats polled 47 percent in a special election—where, don’t forget, only the truly motivated bother to show up at all—does not say much of anything.