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September 14th, 2011
10:14 AM ET

Does Dems' loss mean trouble with Jewish voters?

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

(CNN) – Republicans jumped on the Democrats’ Tuesday loss of the congressional seat given up by disgraced U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner as a sign of eroding Jewish support for President Barack Obama and his party.

New York’s heavily Democratic 9th Congressional District, centered on Brooklyn and Queens, is one of the most Jewish in the nation, and the Democratic candidate was an Orthodox Jew.

"This Republican win in an overwhelmingly Democrat district is a significant indicator of the problem that President Obama has in the Jewish community,” Republican Jewish Coalition executive director Matt Brooks said after Republican Bob Turner won Tuesday’s special election, an outcome that few had predicted a couple of months ago.

“While party leaders scramble to deny and try to stem the erosion of Jewish support for Democrats, the real issue is this President's policies on Israel, on jobs, and on the economy,” Brooks said in a statement late Tuesday. "Bob Turner's win tonight has huge implications for 2012 races in states with large Jewish communities, such as Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.”

Turner, a former cable television executive who faced a steep fundraising disadvantage against Democrat David Weprin, framed the race as a referendum on Obama. He continually blasted the president’s posture toward Israel as insufficiently supportive.

Former New York Mayor Ed Koch, a Jewish Democrat, endorsed Turner for Congress, citing Israel as the primary reason.

“My support for Mr. Turner is intended to send a message to President Obama that he cannot throw Israel under the bus with impunity,” Koch wrote recently, explaining his endorsement.

At Turner’s Tuesday night victory party, where there was a heavy Orthodox Jewish presence, Koch said: "I like President Obama. ... I helped get him elected.”

"But he threw Israel under the bus," Koch said.

Recent surveys from the Siena College Research Institute suggested that Weprin suffered from a sharp decline in Jewish support over the course of August, with a 21-point lead among Jewish likely voters dwindling to 6 points last week.

Siena College pollster Steven Greenberg said the Democratic candidate's falloff in Jewish support came at the hands of defecting Jewish independents and Republicans. Greenberg estimates that New York’s 9th District is about a quarter Jewish.

A Wednesday polling memo from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee did not mention the role of Israel in the New York race, but said that “Republicans used the Karl Rove playbook to scare small, discrete groups of single-issue voters in a low turnout election.”

“For example, Tea Party Republican Bob Turner played on New Yorkers fear and anxiety around the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks,” the memo said. “Turner’s TV ads and mailers included images of the TwinTowers burning and the so-called Ground Zero mosque. Republican outside groups targeted Republican voters, Italian and Irish Catholics, and Orthodox Jews.”

Some Orthodox Jewish rabbis criticized Weprin during the campaign for supporting same-sex marriage as a New York state assemblyman. The National Organization for Marriage, a group opposed to same-sex marriage, spent $75,000 to defeat Weprin, including through mailers to Jewish voters.

“NOM played a major role in this election, helping to organize the Jewish and Hispanic communities to coalesce with Republicans, conservative and other pro-family voters,” the group said in a statement Wednesday. “We mounted the first and largest independent expenditure campaign in the race to make marriage a key issue, and we succeeded.”

A Siena poll earlier this month found that 76% of Jewish likely voters in Weiner’s old district said the country is headed in the wrong direction and that just 42% had a favorable view of Obama.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, meanwhile, enjoyed a 76% approval rating among Jewish likely voters in New York’s 9th District.

Democrats have traditionally enjoyed overwhelming levels of Jewish support.

Greenberg said that Obama is suffering among Democratic voters more broadly and that “Jewish voters are no different than all the voters in the district.”

In a May speech, Obama said that Israel's 1967 borders should be a starting point for peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians and land swaps, provoking criticism from some Jewish leaders.

But a July poll from Gallup found that Obama had a 60% job approval rating among Jewish Americans, and that the speech was "not a watershed in Jewish views toward Obama.”

Sen. Joseph Lieberman, an independent from Connecticut and an Orthodox Jew, endorsed Weprin over the summer and came to his defense on Israel.

"While David Weprin can be counted on to fight for the safety and security of the State of Israel, we can also rely on him to protect the seniors and working families of Brooklyn and Queens," Lieberman said in July.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Judaism • New York • Politics

soundoff (766 Responses)
  1. Zach

    The Jewish vote isn't the issue, Jewish money is. It's disturbing how much influence this little ethnic group has over politics, and it's even more disturbing how they openly put Israel's needs above the US's. It's like they think the US is just a tool for Israel.

    September 14, 2011 at 10:58 am |
    • SCAtheist

      Thgat's exactly right. When is Bibi's next meeting with the rapturists or AIPAC?

      September 14, 2011 at 11:01 am |
    • Sam Temple

      The United States has used its veto scores of times in the United Nations Security Council to shield Israel from any criticism. Most recently this was done to protect Israel from criticism of settlements policy, which is both inhumane and illegal under international law. In spite of the fact that the resolution in question was carefully drafted using language that Washington had previously approved, the US nevertheless vetoed it even though America’s Ambassador to the UN made clear that it was against US interests to do so. Protecting Israel makes Washington a hypocrite and a liar before the eyes of the entire world and it endangers all Americans when they travel overseas. Isn’t it time for Israel to begin accepting the consequences for its own policies and stop using its powerful lobby to make Washington act against the interests of the American people?

      September 14, 2011 at 11:01 am |
    • luckluck

      it is the media that makes it headlines because they own most of the media networks. But, less than 1% of the country's population really could or should make difference?

      September 14, 2011 at 11:11 am |
    • Shoeless Joe

      Why is supporting the only Democracy in the Middle East not is the best interest of the U.S. It is not putting Israels needs before the U.S. It is realizing that they are one in the same. Iraq, Egypt, Turkey, Libya are all becoming militant Islam. That is where the next threat of terrorist attacks will come from.

      September 14, 2011 at 11:31 am |
    • Zach

      @Shoeless Joe

      Why WOULD supporting "the only democracy in the Middle East" be in the best interests on the US? Israel's very existence is considered a casus belli by the arab nations. Supporting Israel merely ensures that we will be eventually drawn into more war with the middle east. And for what? So one little sliver of it can be democratic? Who cares?

      September 14, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
    • ObsTheTimes

      The entire world knows that the united states is a slavish automaton controlled by Israel. Remarkably American Jewry still puts Israel before America. America has given everything to the Jews.
      Kids from the Utah to Florida wil fight for Israel's rights for the next 50 years. All the while Israel will refuse to compromise with its neighbors because of the blank check given to it by America.

      September 14, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
    • THE BROWN NOTE

      oil. we should drill for oil there.

      September 14, 2011 at 9:30 pm |
  2. J

    Of course Obama has lost the Jewish vote. His questionable policy regarding Israel, his weak approach to the nuclear threat in Iran, his "progressive" approach to the problems of Islamic extremism in general, his unconditional gifting of billions of dollars to Egypt, his self-styled Arab Spring which is nothing but an Iranian revolution throughout the whole mideast; these are all serious issues to Jewish voters and likely on their minds as the PA makes its UN bid ready. But I don't think this shows Jews turning away from Obama only, Jews are abandoning the democratic party in droves. They realize that this is a new democratic party and are understandably distrustful of it.

    September 14, 2011 at 10:58 am |
    • SCAtheist

      I guess you are a CIA agent that knows how everything is going to turn out in N. Africa and the ME.

      September 14, 2011 at 10:59 am |
    • sgurdog

      Have you seen some of the protests coming from young Israeli's? They protest their own government and want respectable peaceful leadership instead of hardliners who continue to use the past as a wedge issue to separate human beings from each other. The old guard is quickly becoming irrelevant in this new world.

      September 14, 2011 at 11:09 am |
    • luckluck

      Obama does not need their votes, but Obama should realize that Jews are the most racist people. but, who cares, they are less than 1% of the nations population

      September 14, 2011 at 11:13 am |
    • JohnR

      When's the last time the CIA knew how ANYTHING was going to play out?

      September 14, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
    • Cyrus

      You are a bona fide idiot. Get a brain scan and educate yourself, because you understand nothing about foreign policy.

      September 14, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
  3. John

    When will we think like humans and not like Jews, Christians, Muslims, Hindus, etc.

    September 14, 2011 at 10:57 am |
    • tallulah13

      Or as Americans, as opposed to republicans or democrats?

      September 14, 2011 at 10:58 am |
    • TexasVet

      Never!

      September 14, 2011 at 11:13 am |
  4. SFC Retired

    This really concerns me! We now have a bloc of voters that would rather put another republican in office that will take away their rights here in the U.S. because we don't have our U.S. heads far enough up Isreal's butt. Lets start voting for what the U.S. needs and not worry about what other countries want from us! And that's all I have to say about that.

    September 14, 2011 at 10:57 am |
  5. Reason

    Laughing, if the world government you speak of is secret, then how do you know about it?

    September 14, 2011 at 10:56 am |
    • Laughing

      Like I said below,

      Being a jew myself, I got the card a while back and I sit in on some of the conference calls. Can you believe we actually got that tunisian revolution started? I mean, convincing that guy to set himself on fire?! Who knew where it would lead right? Also, in case you haven't heard on some of the more recent calls now, just wake for south american, big things are coming

      September 14, 2011 at 10:59 am |
    • Qwerty Elemeno

      Oh, I get it. Laughing forgot about Poe's Law.

      September 14, 2011 at 11:11 am |
  6. Sam Temple

    Israel is the 27th wealthiest nation in the world per capita, just ahead of Italy, according to the International Monetary Fund. So why do Israel continue to receive $3 billion from the US taxpayer every year, a sum that some in congress including House Majority Leader Eric Cantor want to make a permanent untouchable subsidy through incorporation into the US defense budget rather than as part of the foreign aid package. What can possibly justify American taxpayers subsidizing the Israeli standard of living, which includes free medical care and university education, at a time when social programs in the US are being cut?

    September 14, 2011 at 10:54 am |
    • SCAtheist

      So now if we don't support Israel taking more land and building settlements in the WB, then the American Jews will hold us by the ba11s.

      September 14, 2011 at 10:57 am |
    • Mike Distance

      Israel is America's greatest friend and ally, we need to do everything in our power to protect their interests, they would do the same for us. The Holocaust was the worst tragedy in human history and was completely unprovoked, it was like 9/11 times 6 million, we must never forget and must do all we can to make sure it can never happen again.

      September 14, 2011 at 11:00 am |
    • Jacob

      Mike Distance, if Israel is our greatest friend and ally, then why do they keep selling our most advanced military technology to China? The US paid to develop the Lavi jet fighter, producing a fighter significantly better than the F-15 or F-16. Fearing it would hurt US arms sales, the US asked Israel to not put the Lavi into production, so Israel sold it to China. Now, China's J-10 fighter is superior to any current US fighter jet except the now discontinued Raptor. This never would have happened if the US had not funded the Lavi program, and Israel had not thrown the US under the bus. We also asked Israel not to share our Patriot Missile or advanced cruise missile technology with anyone, yet they immediately sold them to China. The American people might believe that Israel is our closest friend and ally, but Israel has sided with China over the US time and time again.

      September 15, 2011 at 11:34 am |
  7. sgurdog

    This is a stunning defeat for Democrats, but it's not based on national policy or erosion of support from the Jewish community. This guy they ran was a lame, docile replacement for Anthony Weiner who was a fighter and you knew exactly where he stood on the issues. You can't replace a scream with a whisper and expect people to come out and fight for it. Democrats: stop running dull candidates that will be pushovers for the establishment. If you haven't learned yet why the Tea Party is kicking your a** then I'll explain it again...you need to be loud and you need to be unrelenting in your demands if you want people to listen to you. No one likes weak, tepid representatives.

    September 14, 2011 at 10:53 am |
    • Jake

      This has been my frustration with Democrats too. I am a solid Dem on pretty much every issue, but the Dem politicians cannot keep acting all nice and like you said "whisper". Fortunately, I think Obama learned that when giving the jobs speech. However, the rest of the Dems holding/running for office need to learn that you need to be more aggressive at times when dealing with the Repubs.

      September 14, 2011 at 11:03 am |
  8. Jeff

    I never understood why Jews and African Americans are generally Democrats. Dems hate Israel, and Dems fought to keep slavery.... strange.

    September 14, 2011 at 10:53 am |
    • SCAtheist

      I guess you didn't realize those dems converted to pubs in the south.

      September 14, 2011 at 10:55 am |
    • Laughing

      The dems who fought for slavery actually label themselves as republicans now, learn your history kid.

      And dems don't hate israel, they just want a more tempered policy instead of the give first, ask later that we're currently doing. And considering the most rabid supporters, evangelical christians, are so big on israel is for conversion and armegeddon, I don't think they're allowed to claim moral authority on being the "bigger supporters"

      September 14, 2011 at 10:56 am |
    • sgurdog

      let's get your facts straight....who made up the democratic party during the slavery era? White southerners. So why has the South been such a political force for Republicans in modern times? Because the Republican party has adopted those white supremacists and plantation owners into the fold except those plantation owners are now called corporations.

      September 14, 2011 at 11:01 am |
    • TexasVet

      Jeff,

      The Segregationist, Racist Democrats (DixieCrats) you're referring to, switched to the Republican Party during the 1960s and that is where they have remained. They left when LBJ signed the Civil RIghts Act into law. I hope that answers your question.

      September 14, 2011 at 11:33 am |
  9. Marci

    Go Clinton 2012

    September 14, 2011 at 10:52 am |
  10. COUNTRYCOOK

    Proverbs 29:2

    New King James Version (NKJV)

    2 When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice;
    But when a wicked man rules, the people groan.

    September 14, 2011 at 10:51 am |
    • SCAtheist

      When people believe in the invisible man in the sky and think they can interpret ancient nonsense then we're all in trouble.

      September 14, 2011 at 10:54 am |
    • Jake

      @SCAtheist- Right on!

      September 14, 2011 at 10:56 am |
  11. John Wright

    Obama has lost the Jewish vote and next he'll lose the working man's vote when he attempts to tax them to death. He'll lose the businessman's vote when he regulates them out of business.

    September 14, 2011 at 10:51 am |
  12. LP

    So pleased to see that racism is alive and well. You should truly be ashamed.

    September 14, 2011 at 10:50 am |
    • Big Bob

      What the heck are you talking about?

      September 14, 2011 at 10:57 am |
  13. RW Kerr

    I'll worry about appeasing the Jews as soon as Israel tells the truth about the murder of American sailors on the USS Liberty.

    September 14, 2011 at 10:50 am |
    • Shoeless Joe

      Read the Secret War Against the Jews by John Loftus. Has some incredible insight regarding the U.S.S. Liberty. The U.S. was spying on Israel, it supposed ally during a time of war and giving information to the enemy. This was done so the U.S. could play both sides of the coin and keep the mideast oil flowing. By his account, they were providing actual war maps with the location of U.S. troops to the Egyptians.

      By other accounts, in other research, they were going to inform Syria of Israels intention to attack the Golan Heights. Israel warned the U.S> to not have any ships in the area.

      The reason why the U.S covered this up, is because they were supposedly allies of Israel at the time. Giving information to enemy combatants during a war, would have been a huge international embarresment to the U.S. 2 hours after the Liberty was sunk the Egytians, sought a cease fire with Israel.

      Research before you comment (FYI Israel doesn't want this story out either, because they don't want anyone to no that they ordered an attack on a U.S. ship, even though that ship was costing the Israelis lives

      September 14, 2011 at 11:41 am |
  14. HERB LEVINSTEIN

    KEEP TRANSFERRING GOYISHE WEALTH FROM THE GENTILES TO THE JEWISH PEOPLE OR WE WON'T VOTE FOR YOUR CANDIDATES, SIMPLE

    September 14, 2011 at 10:50 am |
    • Peikovian

      You really convinced me you're Jewish. I was fooled.

      September 14, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
  15. Jake

    As a Jew myself, I get so angry when Jewish voters fall for the same BS of politicians harping on US-Israel relations. There are too many Jews that vote solely on the issue of Israel and think America needs to hold their hand and give them everything they want.

    September 14, 2011 at 10:48 am |
  16. Dopeystatement

    This whole thing is ridiculous. I'm Jewish. I don't vote for a candidate because he's Jewish, I vote for a candidate because I agree with their politics. Yes, a republican winning in a predominantly democratic area is interesting....however I dont think it can be linked to a religious turn. Obama's approval rating is in the crapper...and anytime someone's approval is THAT low, a swing in terms of political affiliation is natural, expected, and generally the norm.

    This is purely sensationalist media at its best. The swing is related to the war, our economy, and life in general being in a bad place in the US...period, end of story.

    September 14, 2011 at 10:48 am |
  17. Don Juan

    It's about the coiffure. Voters chose the natural appearance over the fake one.

    September 14, 2011 at 10:47 am |
  18. CM

    So Obama is supposed to cater so a super-conservative ultra-minority one-issue voting bloc within his own party over the nationa's best interests eh? Yeah, that's worked out well for the republicans wrt catering to the abortion issue.

    September 14, 2011 at 10:47 am |
    • Shoeless Joe

      Obama... The Nations best Interests. Since when has that ever been a concern of his

      September 14, 2011 at 11:43 am |
  19. wefwef

    Nancy Dillon, neo con, anti semite. just read her stuff

    Zigelman, 64, of Borough Park, already served a 2-year sentence for his role in a tax fraud scheme that solicited millions in donations and then funneled most of the money back, giving wealthy donors huge tax breaks.

    "Everyone who knows anything about Rabbi Zigelman knows that he will never, ever testify," his lawyer, Michael Proctor, told the Daily News.

    "For him, it is a matter of his pact with his God," Proctor said. "So what does the Government think it is accomplishing, other than to jail a religious man who has already served his time?"

    Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel O'Brien said the religious stance could serve as a "convenient tool" to hide behind, according to the Los Angeles Times

    Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/2011/09/09/2011-09-09_rabbi_refuses_to_rat_on_jews_in_tax_scam.html#ixzz1XwDPVijc

    September 14, 2011 at 10:46 am |
  20. JohnR

    Obama can lose the Jewish vote and still win. Jews are a huge sector in New York, but not nationally.

    September 14, 2011 at 10:37 am |
    • Dopeystatement

      Yes, Laughing, you're right. We secretly have our own government. We also get these nifty membership cards, own all of Hollywood, are rich, have large noses, and will rip you off every chance we get.

      Bloody moron.

      September 14, 2011 at 10:49 am |
    • Laughing

      @Dopey

      Should have probably put more sarcasm on that (Gee, I wish they had a sarcasm font, then this wouldn't have gotten taken as a serious comment)

      Oh, FYI, also I'm jewish myself, so I appreciate you not telling the goyim about our horns and jew gold

      September 14, 2011 at 10:53 am |
    • luckluck

      Jewish are not even 1% of the American Population. But, I don't know why every politician becomes their puppets. Jews care more about Israel than America. I don't think that many Jews are enrolled in the military and sacrificed.

      September 14, 2011 at 11:01 am |
    • Qwerty Elemeno

      You are a Jew who thinks the Jews have their own secret world government? Righteo.

      Thanks for dropping by and telling us how crazy you are. We will put you on the "Resident Psycho" list with HeavenSent and the many Justinas.

      September 14, 2011 at 11:03 am |
    • JohnR

      Obviously everyone's sarcasm meters seem to be malfunctioning today!

      Btw, I didn't say Obama WILL win (not at all sure about that) or OUGHT to win (leaning for him now, but may go back to voting 3rd party myself), only that he CAN win. This is a pretty serious loss, but there were issues, including the previous Democrat putz's method of political self-destruction, in play here that aren't in play nationwide now, let alone likely to be by November 2012. Pretty big wake up call for Obama and his supporters, but it's not yet time for them to be hitting any panic buttons.

      September 14, 2011 at 11:59 am |
    • Laughing

      Wow, people REALLY didn't like my post at all huh? I guess jokes are not allowed and when I mention something as ridiculous as a global government run by jews, apparently that is in no way funny to anyone else.

      Duely noted.

      September 14, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
    • Qwerty Elemeno

      Actually Laughing, we fell prey to Poe's Law: "an axiom suggesting that it's difficult to distinguish between parodies of religious fundamentalism (or, more generally, parodies of any crackpot or extremist belief) and its genuine proponents, since they both seem equally insane."

      The problem is not your humor, but that there are people here who actually believe bizarre stuff like that, so we could not distinguish between humor and a serious nutter. My apologies.

      September 14, 2011 at 5:16 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.