Barack Obama claims he knows more about Judaism than any other president. Despite this boast, Republican challenger Mitt Romney is on track to get the largest proportion of Jewish votes of any Republican since Ronald Reagan.
During a meeting Tuesday with leaders of the Jewish Conservative movement, Mr. Obama said he had been reading up on the religion and further based his claim on the fact that he had a lot of Jewish friends in Chicago. Of course, he also was close friends with his pro-Hamas pastor Jeremiah Wright and domestic terrorist William Ayers, but why muddy the narrative with facts? Mr. Obama complained that top Republican leaders are never questioned about their commitment to Israel, but this is because they have been consistently strong supporters of the Jewish state, unlike the current administration.
The recent spate of Jewish-themed White House events is a response to some troubling poll numbers. A survey released last month by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) showed Mr. Obama's support in the Jewish community - while above the national average - is softening and is far below the level enjoyed by Democratic predecessor Bill Clinton.
Mr. Obama has less support from Jews than any Democrat in recent political memory. Sixty-two percent said they would vote for Mr. Obama in the 2012 presidential race versus 30 percent for a Republican. This is notably lower than the 77 percent support Mr. Obama received in 2008 and below Jewish vote percentages for John F. Kerry in 2004 and Al Gore in 2000.
Jewish Republicans are fewer in number and approach politics differently from their Democratic co-religionists. They rate support for Israel (37 percent) and religious observance (24 percent) as the qualities most important to their identity, in contrast with Democrats who place commitment to social equality first (54 percent), with Israel and observance down the list at 15 percent. Political conservatives are more likely to attend synagogues, which tracks the trend in the general population that the more religiously observant are less likely to support Mr. Obama. Likewise, Jews and non-Jews who are concerned about Israel give Mr. Obama much lower marks.
As with the general population, the economy is the No. 1 issue among Jewish voters. The PRRI study showed that Mr. Obama's "most important failures" have been inability to improve economic conditions, not providing strong leadership and increasing government spending. When asked generally about the Obama administration, 35 percent said they were excited or satisfied, while 59 percent were disappointed, worried or angry.
Most worrisome is that many Jews seem to be giving up on the very idea of America. Forty-five percent said they thought the American dream of bettering oneself no longer held true, while an additional 10 percent said it never did. Just 19 percent think their children will be better off financially than they are. The Romney campaign slogan, "Believe in America," is aimed directly at these types of disenchanted voters.
The Washington Times
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.