First, the facts. A new poll conducted by the McLaughlin group found that 42 percent of American Jews are planning to vote for President Obama in 2012, and 46 percent are not (12 percent aren’t sure). The more religious you are, the less likely you were to say you will be voting for him. Exactly half of those polled approve of the job he is doing vis-à-vis Israel. The poll has a four-point margin of error, which makes it a statistical tie in and of itself, but in another sense a significant defeat for the president. After all, the proportion of the Jewish vote that Obama captured in 2008 was 78 percent.
Ron Kampeas has major issues with the poll questions; he (who is generally not a left-wing socialist or anything) calls it “so skewed as to be otherwise useless.” He points to a loaded question whereby respondents were asked if they would approve of the Obama Administration’s supporting a plan to give the Palestinians a state in two years, and wonders, “When did they ask the ‘Obama or another candidate’ question—before or after they depicted the fantasy Obama-Kong who’s busy scooping up the Western Wall and plopping it down at the Muqata?” Well put.
Shmuel Rosner takes a look at some of the poll’s demographics and pretty persuasively concludes that the poll’s sample had a significantly greater proportion of Jewish voters with strong ties to Israel than the population as a whole—which would be another cause for it to trend bearish on Obama. (Of course, there is more than one way to have a biased sample.) Plus, as even amateur poll-watchers probably noticed, the central question is inherently biased: A flesh-and-blood candidate always does worse against an imagined, hypothetical “alternative” then against another flesh-and-blood candidate. And Obama ultimately will be running against another person with his (or her!) own positions and faults.
That said, all the (completely legitimate) hole-poking in the world can’t possibly account for every last percentage point that lies between 78 and 42. I also wonder whether you’re not going to see greater turnout from the generally low-yielding Hasidic and religiously observant Jewish population as a result of Obama’s policies and rhetoric—and, indeed, as a result of the media coverage of Obama’s waning popularity with the Jews. The only caveat left standing? The election is still more than two years away.
Poll: Obama Has Lost Almost Half of His U.S. Jewish Support [Arutz Sheva]
Reality vs. Unreality I: Bad News in Jewish Polling for Obama? [Capital J]
Most Jews Won’t Re-Elect Obama,’ If You Care To Believe Polls [Rosner’s Domain]