Dem pollster: No danger of Obama losing the Jewish vote

Jim Gerstein, a Democratic pollster who works with the liberal Middle East advocacy group J Street, says that there is no danger of President Obama losing a major share of the Jewish vote in 2012.

“As the biannual claims of Democratic decline with Jews resurface over the next eight months, it is important to keep perspective: The only problem that Obama and Democrats have with Jewish voters is that there is not more of them,” Gerstein wrote in a 10-page polling memo released Friday. "The President is well-positioned to have another strong showing with Jewish voters."

Many Republicans are convinced that they can win over more Jewish voters, convincing many to abandon their traditional Democratic voting patterns and back GOP candidates at the presidential and congressional levels. As a result, President Obama has faced increasing criticism from his rivals on his relationship with the Israeli government and his commitment to stopping Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon — all charges that the president and his supporters deny vehemently.

According to Gerstein, Democrats still maintained a 66 to 31 percent advantage among Jewish voters in the 2010 midterms — in a year where the GOP won in a landslide. Jewish voters voted for Democrats in greater numbers than other key Democratic constituencies, including unmarried women, Hispanics and voters under 30.

Further, Gerstein notes, Republicans and conservatives still have high disapproval numbers among Jewish voters — while Democrats, including the president, remain relatively popular. In July J Street polling, Jews disapprove of the tea party movement 74 percent, with 12 percent approval. They disapprove of Mitt Romney 60 percent to 16 percent, and they disapprove of former President George W. Bush 73 percent to to 16 percent. In the same survey, Obama is above water 56 percent to 34 percent — numbers similar to a recent Gallup polls from the fall that showed Obama at 54 percent to 41 percent.

Gerstein's memo comes in advance of this week's American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference, where Obama, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and many others will address the group. Obama is also scheduled to meet with Netanyahu next week in a crucial summit to discuss the Iranian threat and other bilateral U.S.-Israel issues.

Democrats have spent the week pre-butting Republican charges that the president isn't committed enough to Israel's security. The DNC released a video accusing Republicans of playing politics on the issue this week. And the president himself addressed the charges in an interview that was published Friday.

"Every single commitment I have made to the state of Israel and its security, I have kept," Obama told the Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg. "Why is it that despite me never failing to support Israel on every single problem that they've had over the last three years, that there are still questions about that?"


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