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. Mike Houston

    If support for our President by Americans who are Jewish is dependent upon his(the President's) position on policies relative to Israel, then I suspect that those people consider themselves to be Israeli rather than U.S. citizens. I suggest that their loyalty to
    the U.S. is second to their allegiance to Israel. The President must make decisions that are in the best interests of the U.S. If
    those decisions coincidentally are also best for Israel, then good...If not, well, that's just the way it goes. Too bad, but not
    reason enough to deny him support politically.

    September 15, 2011 at 3:24 pm |
  2. Vespasian

    I'm Jewish, but I will not place the interests of a foreign country above the interests of my own country. That's treason.

    September 15, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
    • Mike Houston

      I'm not Jewish and I do support out President. However, it is in the best interest of ALL Americans that the president
      remembers who in the Mideast is our ONLY true friend...That's Israel.

      September 15, 2011 at 3:34 pm |
  3. Reality

    Anytime Mark of Muddy River agrees with something it is worth repeating:

    Israel- Its formation was approved by the UN in 1948. It should honor the original UN agreement and live within the described borders. Considering the hate generated by passages in the koran and ot, erecting dividing walls between Muslims and Jews was a great idea and the building of said walls should continue. UN forces should control these walls.

    And Jerusalem should be made into an international city under the control and protection of the UN.

    And from another blogger:

    "American Muslims agree to leave the United States in a one-for-one exchange for Jews from Israel. Dismantle Israel. Problem solved!" (actually two problems solved)

    September 15, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
    • Mike Houston

      "American Muslims agree to leave the United States in a one-for-one exchange for Jews from Israel. Dismantle Israel. Problem solved!"
      NO "problem" solved!!! That's a recipe for absolute catastrophe...

      September 15, 2011 at 3:43 pm |
  4. moshe

    remember people this is a low in comparison to the amount of support he has had in the past (60% is in comparison to what?)

    Gallup shows Obama has had a range of 54% (Late 2010) to 83% at the start of his term and there has been a decline in recent months

    I'm glad CNN can report the facts correctly

    September 15, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
  5. Weiser

    There is no trouble. The Obama dispatched Wasserman-Schutz to smooth things out. And like we know, good Dumbocrats just need to be promised something for free. So Wasserman-Schultz will promise the Jewish voters something free and Obama will be loved again.

    FYI. If you have any relatives in Israel, better bring them to America just incase Obama get re-eelected. There is more to the Arab Spring to come.

    September 15, 2011 at 12:59 pm |
  6. Newyorker

    Why did they vote for this pig, Turner? I thought conservative Jews liked kosher.

    September 15, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
    • Bill Duke

      Because they were tired of getting it from Obama's "weiner".

      September 15, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
  7. Patricksday

    If there is a God, how can it allow such injustice with corruption, deceptions, GREED, denial of basic health needs, and hateful ugly people who wrap them self in Religion and do Terrible things because of their Arrogance, Pride and lack of evolution of Heart and Mind. Cavemen in Business Suits, Evil is Evil regardless of the Religion its covered it self up in. No Free Passes for any Evil Deeds regardless of the Faith or Region it infects.

    September 15, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
    • Socrates

      Whoever speaks against the "Chosen People" will burn in hell. I will suggest you, Patricksday, apologizes so you can save your soul and your body will not burn eternally in hell. This last part is a puzzle for me. How can you burn in hell eternally? Is God a torturer? I am so scare of this guy and the chosen people. I don't want to go to hell.

      September 15, 2011 at 2:39 pm |
  8. bexum

    JEFF. Why are we Democrats or Independants because Republicans sure as hell don`t like African Americans or the common working man for that matter that`s why. You talk about Democrats wanted to kepp slavery yeah but look how many so called Democrats back in the 60`s jump ship to the Republican party when civil rights was passed. But this is not the point. I don`t give a crap if we were talking about African Americans voting for a Republican because the Democrat threw Africa under the bus. I would ask the same question of them what`s your damn country America or Africa. If you love africa some much then catch the next thing smoking back there and i say the same to these so called jewish americans you love it so much that you base your voting decision on what ANY president does for it then why don`t you head on over there and be a citizen of Israel.

    September 15, 2011 at 11:36 am |
  9. Amit-Atlanta-USA

    Mikle and others:

    I totally agree with you guys.

    If not an Islamic supporter, as Mike Huckabee put it correctly, President Obama surely has a soft corner for Islam based on his upbringing (growing up in Islamic but outwardly secular Indonesia). No wonder in his by now “INFAMOUS CAIRO SPEECH” Mr. Obama called America one of the largest Muslim nations, called the Azaan (the Muslim call for prayer) one of the sweetest sounds he had ever heard(!), and MOST GLARINGLY misled America & the Muslim world on the reasons Thomas Jefferson maintained a Holy Koran, which was NOT to understand its peaceful teachings, but on the CONTRARY to understand what inspired West African Muslim pirates to loot & kill in the most barbaric manner in the name of Islam!

    To top it all Obama also has surrounded himself with rabid Anti-Semite, pro-Islamic (& anti-American ) advisors like Mr. Fareed Zakaria, Rashad Hassan, Imam Rauf who are helping him formulate MErn & Muslim world policies, plus policies for embracing Muslim Turkey into the EU (for greater islamization of Europe & eventually America!), dramatically increase aid to ungrateful Muslim nations (incl. Terrorist Pakistan, Turkey, Egypt, Palestine etc.), enhance scientific cooperation with the Muslim world by opening the doors of NASA & other frontier agencies, endangering our own security, greater accommodation of Muslim views & sensibilities all in the garb of religious freedoms etc. damaging the fabric of America’s free society etc. (just to name a few).

    As you said it right President Obama has been prevented from swaying excessively into the Islamic fold wary of staunch backing for Israel from most Americans (incl. the general public, the congress and ofcourse AIPAC). But in a second term with no more elections to fight, most Americans are skeptical of his continued support to our greatest ally Israel.

    Given the earth shattering events that are taking place in the ME endangering the mere existence of the Jewish nation, many Americans are thinking if it's worth the risk to re-elect Mr. Obama the next time around!

    September 15, 2011 at 11:35 am |
    • Cronus

      I agree with you and you have done your homework, but the Left still won't get it.

      September 15, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
    • Amit-Atlanta-USA


      Also check my response below.

      September 15, 2011 at 2:31 pm |
  10. Bucktooth

    we can quote theBible, talk about the Jewish people, say who didn't do what/when..bottom line is we're being run by the human powers that be! These Dems/Repukes are puppets! We've been manipulated/distracted by all of the garbage. Noone knows what is really going on in other countries until you speak with someone that has been/lived there. The Media gives you what they want to hear!look @ the big picture and dig into history and research whatis really going on. Don't just take anyone's word for anything!

    September 15, 2011 at 11:24 am |
  11. Jacob

    Being Jewish, I want to support Israel, but I wish Israel would support the US. Mayor Koch says Obama threw Israel under the bus, but what do you call it when Israel gives advanced US military technology to China? Even though we asked them not to, Israel sold US Patriot Missile and advanced cruise missile technology to China. The US funded the Lavi jet fighter program, which produced a plane significantly better than the F-15 or F-16. Fearing it would kill US arms sales, the US asked Israel to not put the Lavi into production. So Israel sold the Lavi's technology to China. Now, China's J-10 is superior to any US fighter jet except the now discontinued Raptor.

    Without US funding of the Lavi program, and Israel selliing out the US, this never would have happened. Israel has continually thrown the US under the bus, and we are just expected to take this? American Jews need to decide which country they consider their country, because Israel only pretends to be America's friend, and whenever they get new US military technology, they immediately sell it to China. I realize Israel is just looking out for its own best interest, but does that mean Jews in the US should put Israel's interests ahead of America's. While our interests are often the same, Israel has proven that it will side with China over the US time and time again.

    September 15, 2011 at 11:19 am |
    • Rick

      Is being a Jew and supporting Israel and being Jewish American mutually exclusive terms? We cannot let them become so.

      September 15, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
    • Jacob

      Rick, I agree it shouldn't have to be one or the other, but it's hard when Israel keeps selling the US' most advanced military technology to China. The primary reason the US refused to sell Raptors to Israel was because we knew they would share that technology with China. While I feel culturally linked to Israel, when they continually sell us out to China, it is hard to see them as anything but an enemy of the US. While most Americans are unaware of Israel's repeated betrayal, I know many "Americans" who are aware of these sales to China, and defend them as being in Isreal's best interest. These traitors clearly put Israel's interests ahead of the US'.

      September 15, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
    • Socrates

      I have a problem when people, whoever they are, make responsible Jews or Israelis for what the estate of Israel does. Most Jews and Israelis are not Zionists and Zionists are the ones responsible for the actions of the government of Israel. Have you seen the hundreds of Israelis protesting on the street in Israel because they can't afford a roof? Look at actions of the government and how they are fooling you everyday with the Palestinian menace while the wealthy get richer and the majority of the Israelis and Jews like the majority of the people in the whole world get poorer. Jews/Israelis, look at the big picture and get out of this "anti-Semitic BS". I have Jewish friends who understand very well situation. Netanjahu is just a caretaker of the rich Jew/Israelis. He doesn't care much about you if you are not rich. I am defending the Palestinians now and, if you were in their situation I will be defending you.

      September 15, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
  12. bexum

    I agree with what was said in a few of the replies. Who are they for America or Israel? If you feel that strong for Isreal Koch and the rest of them then move to Isreal. I am part African American but my allegiance is to my country, America not Africa and they need to pick what thier country is Isreal or America!

    September 15, 2011 at 11:15 am |
  13. mikle

    I cannot believe that any Jews can vote for Obama. He hate Israel , hate Jews and love Palestinian. Let him loved them, but vote for Obame we must be crazy. He not smart in big politics and was vote for president only because he was historical person. Experiment is over and it's bad one. We got our "change" and it asohan way.

    September 15, 2011 at 10:57 am |
    • erich2112x

      I'll take a California roll and some of that ahi tuna wrap. No fortune cookie.

      September 15, 2011 at 11:25 am |
    • David in Corpus

      I usually don't complain about these things brother, but.....
      are you mixing present and past tense for a reason?
      It seems like it would be more trouble to put together some linguistic mish mash as you just did than to actually communicate with others in a more understandable fashion.

      September 15, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
  14. Fed up

    Go figure. The Jews control us through AIPAC. Not surprised here.

    September 15, 2011 at 10:30 am |
    • k

      they don't control you, you are a loser, that is your problem

      September 15, 2011 at 10:43 am |
    • JS

      Another delusional anti-Semite.

      September 15, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
    • Laura

      Well, if the full financing of the trip to Israel for the 1/3 of American Congressmen and their spouses this summer, is not the control by AIPAC, what is… K and JS, please don’t jump and call me Anti-Semite too, my children are half-Jewish.

      September 15, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
  15. Jim

    So, Jews are the only ones aloud to vote in this district? Is that what this article is telling us? Largest Jewish population equals how much of the population? Well, in district 9, which is the fourth largest concentration of Jews in America, they account for approx. 20% of the population. Yes, that means approximately 80% of the population is not Jewish. But who cares. BTW, these are largely Orthodox Jews, which are extremely different than your average Jewish American.

    September 15, 2011 at 10:15 am |
    • Jim

      Oops- Aloud = allowed. Typing to fast, Iguess.

      September 15, 2011 at 10:24 am |
    • There is nothing new under the sun -- Ecc 1:9

      You are right. We are different. We vote in elections in higher pecentages than the average American demographic group.

      September 15, 2011 at 10:59 am |
  16. Amit-Atlanta-USA

    With the kind of rabid Anti-Semite (& also Anti-American) like Mr. Fareed Zakaria, Rashad Hassan (US Ambassador to the OIC), radical Imam Rauf (our goodwill Ambassador to the ME) etc. that Obama has surrounded himself with (as his external advisors for ME and Muslim affairs), if I were a Jew, I would be doubly scary to trust Obama, surely in his second term when he does not have to fear another election!

    Led down the rosy path by these Islamist supporters America has already sacrificed its trusted allies in the ME and we are now betting our horses on these well known radicals, all in the garb of freedoms.

    Famously Mr. Zakaria has called on Egypt to abrogate the peace treaty with Israel shamelessly calling it as a treaty between two regimes and NOT two peoples. At every opportunity he has also been championing the causes of the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas calling them moderates. Parallely, Mr. Zakaria has also been trashing America at every opportunity and TAKING GULLIBLE AMERICANS DOWN A GUILT TRIP holding them responsible for most of the ILLS FACING THE MUSLIM WORLD, as also the MUSLIM COMMUNITY right here in America, going as far as to suggest that AL-QAEDA started hating us ONLY b’coz of our policies, exactly just the way the radicals do!

    Encouraged by US indifference, we have already seen:
    a) Egypt destroy the Israeli embassy in Cairo
    b) Sabotage of the gas pipeline to Israel via the Sinai
    c) Opening of the Gaza check points to terrorists (in contravention of international treaties)
    d) Islamist Turkey trying to regroup Arab & Iranian opposition to Israel
    e) Uniting terrorist Hamas & the PLO
    f) The impending unilateral declaration of independence by the "so-called" Palestanians, etc.

    All these and many other steps are ONLY geared towards the ULTIMATE GOAL of DESTROYING THE JEWISH NATION & EVENTUALLY AMERICA & EUROPE!

    September 15, 2011 at 9:28 am |
    • Phil in Oregon

      Yep, the administration has done nothing to help Israel, and usually goes against them when the chips are down. The president may not BE a racist, but he acts like one sometimes.

      September 15, 2011 at 9:35 am |
    • Phil

      Well, good thing for him he is not the president of Israel. So, he's angering a population that puts their country before America, Oh no.

      September 15, 2011 at 10:19 am |
  17. Bible Verses for Godless America

    The word of the LORD came to me:
    “Son of man, say to the ruler of Tyre, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says:

    “‘In the pride of your heart
    you say, “I am a god;
    I sit on the throne of a god
    in the heart of the seas.”
    But you are a mere mortal and not a god,
    though you think you are as wise as a god.
    Are you wiser than Daniel?
    Is no secret hidden from you?
    By your wisdom and understanding
    you have gained wealth for yourself
    and amas-sed gold and silver
    in your treasuries.
    By your great skill in trading
    you have increased your wealth,
    and because of your wealth
    your heart has grown proud.

    “‘Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says:

    “‘Because you think you are wise,
    as wise as a god,
    I am going to bring foreigners against you,
    the most ruthless of nations;
    they will draw their swords against your beauty and wisdom
    and pierce your shining splendor.
    They will bring you down to the pit,
    and you will die a violent death
    in the heart of the seas.
    Will you then say, “I am a god,”
    in the presence of those who kill you?
    You will be but a mortal, not a god,
    in the hands of those who slay you...

    I have spoken, declares the Sovereign LORD.’”
    (from Ezekiel chapter 28)

    September 15, 2011 at 8:30 am |
    • David in Corpus

      Didn't read any of it fktard.

      September 15, 2011 at 12:33 pm |
  18. Uniquitous

    I thought Weiner was not re-elected because he was posting pics of his junk in twitter. Or is that some other politician? It would seem to me that the Jewish community would want someone of their faith that behaved this way out of the public eye. Of course they voted him out.

    September 15, 2011 at 8:29 am |
    • bsitz

      He wasn't running.....

      September 15, 2011 at 9:19 am |
  19. ColoredMountains

    Secular Jews, don't corrupt America. Godly America is the one that will fulfill your good dreams, not the godless one. Fear God as you should. The Jewish Bible says all men's schemes will come to utterly nothing, as God is sovereign over everything for all time. Why didn't you get that in the last 4,000 years? Don't whine because He did not move as you wanted Him to. All human lives belong to Him, not to your understanding. God suffered far more than all Jews did. Read the Book of Job and the Gospels and understand life deeply. Repent and trust your Messiah Jesus.

    September 15, 2011 at 8:28 am |
    • Jake

      Um, if someone Identifies as Jewish, then they don't have a "Messiah Jesus" to repent to or trust in. Nice try though.

      September 15, 2011 at 12:08 pm |
  20. ColoredMountains

    Farewell, atheists. I'm somewhere else with some other names. Read the Bible verses below. It was for you.

    September 15, 2011 at 8:20 am |
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About this blog

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.