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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. Jeremy

    Obama is another Jimmy Carter...enough said.

    September 14, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
    • SCAtheist

      Because you said it – not even close. On this issue Carter had it right.

      September 14, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
  2. Tony

    They are concerned with Israel, yet they fail to see the GOP-Nazi party coming to power here at home.

    September 14, 2011 at 1:52 pm |
    • SCAtheist

      Yeah but it's a new special kind of NAZI. Now that god has told them the isralites will again be god's people and inherit the earth, they will support Israel at all costs.

      September 14, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
    • steve, in Phoenix

      Tony.....you're a certifiable moron.......
      And stop embarrassing yourself in public .....
      .....if your shoe size is larger than your IQ, that is.....

      September 14, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
  3. Bill

    Nothing new here, our foreign policy is in trouble due to our unwavering support for Israel. How much power does Israel has in this country? Huge, Israel's Prime minister lectures Obama recorded by networks, same week joint a congress gave Netaneahu a better reception than Obama ever had. One problem with all of that, no matter what we do as a country, Israel has to find a way to live with its neighbours and please do read history, how many times the peace of real estate changed hands in four thousand years. One day the enemy might be the conquer again, results will not be pretty. Make peace and keep this country of all races and faiths out of little countries tantrums.

    September 14, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
  4. Michele

    It is not just a question of Jewish vote or the economy. I'm in the 9th District and a long standing Democrat. I had to force myself to go vote but I am pretty sure a lot of voters stayed home. Why?? The Democratic party has abandonned most of its core values including the environement and green energy. Right not we're just kneeling to the Republican party and its increasingly far right ideology. So what's the difference if Weprin or Turner won? I liked Weiner, he at least stood for something and the party admin bailed on him thinking this was a safe seat. Bad call obviously. THe party should have let the voters decide on Weiner and the Democratic party needs to refocus on its base voters because right now I can't see the difference between Romney and Obama. I may just stay home on election day in 2012.

    September 14, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
    • SCAtheist

      So the answer is to push the government further right?

      September 14, 2011 at 1:52 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Michelle

      Referenncing a passion for weiners who stand seems risque!

      September 14, 2011 at 1:52 pm |
  5. WDinDallas

    Jews always vote Democratic, 99%. This is a remarkable trun. The Jews always know pandering to Democrats will work. They must truely fear that this adminstration is about to take their money....

    September 14, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
    • barabra

      orthodox religious jews usually vote republican

      September 14, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
  6. Reality

    Why do the political parties ever care considering there are over 170 million Christian adults in the USA vs. 2.7 million Jewish adults? (2008 census)

    And then there is this:

    “John Hick, a noted British philosopher of religion, estimates that 95 percent of the people of the world owe their religious affiliation to an accident (the randomness) of birth. The faith of the vast majority of believers depends upon where they were born and when. Those born in Saudi Arabia will almost certainly be Moslems, and those born and raised in India will for the most part be Hindus. Nevertheless, the religion of millions of people can sometimes change abruptly in the face of major political and social upheavals. In the middle of the sixth century ce, virtually all the people of the Near East and Northern Africa, including Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Egypt were Christian. By the end of the following century, the people in these lands were largely Moslem, as a result of the militant spread of Islam.

    The Situation Today
    Barring military conquest, conversion to a faith other than that of one’s birth is rare. Some Jews, Moslems, and Hindus do convert to Christianity, but not often. Similarly, it is not common for Christians to become Moslems or Jews. Most people are satisfied that their own faith is the true one or at least good enough to satisfy their religious and emotional needs. Had St. Augustine or St. Thomas Aquinas been born in Mecca at the start of the present century, the chances are that they would not have been Christians but loyal followers of the prophet Mohammed. “ J. Somerville

    It is very disturbing that religious narrow- mindedness, intolerance, violence and hatred continues unabated due to randomness of birth. Maybe, just maybe if this fact would be published on the first page of every newspaper every day, that we would finally realize the significant stupidity of all religions.

    September 14, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Perhaps because the Jew community holds great wealth, and a controling interest in several media congolomerates.

      September 14, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
    • Reality

      WD,

      Good point !!

      September 14, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
  7. Niz

    I'm tired of American Jews putting their Zionist beliefs ahead of our nation's interests. And I'm even more tired of our politicians supporting it. Are US Jews Americans or Israelis? If they think Israel is so great why don't they move there?

    September 14, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
    • Mike

      So the Jewish community abandons Obama because he's the first US President to deal with Israel as a separate nation. He realized that Sep 11 was due in part to the US blind support of the ZIonist nation.

      September 14, 2011 at 2:40 pm |
  8. DougC

    US politicians should be asking whether Isreal's politicians are acting like friends to the USA. Friendship is a two way street.

    September 14, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
    • Traitors

      When Americans vote against America to support a foreign country first that should be considered treason. At the least it's disgusting

      September 14, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
  9. Thomas

    AIPAC !

    September 14, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
  10. John Allis

    CNN is once again a platform for jew hate.

    September 14, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
    • SCAtheist

      Sure everybody that doesn't like Israeli policy is a Jew-hater. nonsense.

      September 14, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
    • Traitors

      @John. Pure ignorance. Stop hiding behind your religion. We are talking politics.

      September 14, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
    • Anomic Office Drone

      Trying to connect disagreement with Israel's policies to antisemitism is beneath anyone trying to have a serious discussion about the issues.

      September 14, 2011 at 2:23 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Strange, considering that Jews hold substantial stock in the company.

      But then again a Muslim owns a big chunk of Fox.

      I guess it seems God is secondary to the dollar.

      September 14, 2011 at 2:24 pm |
  11. Laughing

    Let me help anyone who is still confused why American Jewry supports Israel and American policy towards Israel, but in no way votes Israel's interestes over the American one:

    Firstly, Israel is the only democracy in the middle east. This is important to America for a couple of reasons. Having a democracy in the Middle East gives us a solid ally and foothold there that in other countries our ties are tenuous at best. While most other countries there don't start sh.it with us because they recognize we're more powerful than they are, Israel and America are actually very friendly. Second, regardless of what you think, the American-Israeli partnership is beneficial for both sides. For a purely American stand point (regardless of what religious creed you identify with), Israel's location gives America a big soap box in which to promote Democratic ideals in the Middle East. Republicans are very big supporters because they are more ardent about war and spreading democracy that way. If Israel gets embroiled in a war and we get pulled in, that sits better with a republican than a democrat.

    From a Jewish perspective: It's important to have a Jewish homeland, a place that will never expell jews the way that nearly every other country in the history of the world has done at one point or another. Call it Jewish paranoia or vicitmization complex, but if there's one thing any jew has learned as that when the geshtoppo shows up, they won't care if you are a 'secular' jew or if your parents were jewish but you aren't or any of that crap, they'll take you away anyways, and these geshtoppo might even be your neighbors. If you think it's ridiculous that I even believe this in such an enlightened and modern time you might want to take a look at the comments on this board. Anti-semitism is alive and well here in America and everywhere else. Having a jewish country is a step in the right direction and needs to be protected.

    Israel however is not immune to criticism and has had policies and done things that are bad and I, among many other American Jews, disagree with. To equate israel with jews is being anti-semitic in a sense. learn the difference between jewish people and israelis (which includes, jews, arabs, christians, druze, etc...)

    Just a thought to think about, if the Vatican was in a much more hostile environment and had to constantly defend itself from being bombarded with rockets on a daily basis and one of its major (and only) true allies with the US, would you not support the US in its constant defense and help it provides to the Vatican in everything? Just something to ponder over, but if the one place that unequivocally accepts you as a Christian (or if you're a muslim, insert Mecca for the Vatiacn) is under attack, wouldn't you do a lot in your power to protect that place?

    September 14, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
    • SCAtheist

      I feel no need to protect any theocracy. Israel has the means to protect itself. It would be a lot less dangerous if they would end the slow-crawl ethinic cleansing operation.

      September 14, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Laughing

      Israel a democracy?

      Strange you might believe that.

      September 14, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
    • Laughing

      I agree with you except your point about protecting itself. It does not have that capability, in the UN it doesn't and if it were to battle the entire middle east it would not. They might be inciting hatred and violence by their policies and I certainly will agree with you it's moving much more towards a country run by the ultra-orthodox, however considering they incite hatred and violence just for breathing, it's hard to find the line where they're actually doing the wrong and where the anti-semitism begins.

      September 14, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
    • MA

      "To equate israel with jews is being anti-semitic in a sense. learn the difference between jewish people and israelis" –

      Words never more truly spoken!

      September 14, 2011 at 1:52 pm |
    • Honestly

      We don't care dude. Talk to us about jobs and football. The reason you religious types get labeled nuts is because you get outside of yourselves and think your concerns are the same concerns of the majority. They are not. And they shouldn't be. America ceases to be America once we embrace a singular thought. Obama is perceived as weak because he doesn't take a hard stance for one group of people. We preach fair and balance but we don't practice it.

      September 14, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
    • Jason

      That really depends on why the Vatican were being shelled, and how sincere they seemed in wanting to find an equitable solution vs simply use a more powerful "ally" to justify their flawed policies.

      September 14, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
    • caution

      @laughing.

      Agree with you on this one!

      Peace!

      September 14, 2011 at 2:02 pm |
    • Niz

      You talk about having a homeland where Jews can not be expelled from. Has it even occurred to you that this "homeland" is predicated upon expelling Palestinians from their own country and making them live the way blacks lived under Apartheid? It never ceases to amaze me that for all their talk about the Holocaust, Jews have little or no sensitivity towards anyone else's suffering. And yes, Israeli policy is bad for the US. Why do you think we were attacked on September 11th?

      September 14, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
    • Laughing

      @ William

      Israel is as much a democracy as America is.....take from that what you will.

      @Honestly
      Not a religious type, I actually identify more as an Atheist but I still recognize my Jewish heritage and understand the importance in it. Secondly, everyone's concerns should be heard, whether they're in a majority or not, which is why we live in a democratic republic, keep that in mind.

      @Jason
      The reason they're being shelled is because they're christian. As for being sincere, it depends what you mean. I agree with you that at this point, Israel doesn't seem to be sincere in making peace in the way that it used to. This could be because the only people willing to listen and try for that peace just hooked up with a group who's main charter is to destroy israel. It could be that any concession they've made has been thrown back in their face and used in addiotnal efforts to destroy them (See Gaza). I'm not saying that Israel is right and just in every action that its taken, but to believe that they have never been sincere or that the Palestinians (and indeed many other places in the world) have been seeking peace and Israel is the only stumbling block is foolishness

      September 14, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
    • Courageous

      No rational being will tolerate the bullying of the tiny nation of Israel.

      Israel, we stand with you!

      September 14, 2011 at 2:08 pm |
    • Laughing

      @Niz

      We were attacked on 9/11 because of many reasons, mainly that we're not Muslim. America's relationship with Israel is only one factor in why we're hated in the Middle East. Second, these 'aparthied" conditions that you speak of are self-induced by the Palestinians themselves in their own territory. They live like refugees because they refuse to make peace and their "arab allies" refuse to allow them into their own countries. Meanwhile, so many people attack israel that for protection they must have security checkpoints. Are they perfect? No and do they probably incite more hatred everyday, sure, but again you have to see it from both perspectives and realize that Israel's effort to protect itself and citizens by creating these checkpoints that harken back to South African apartheid is in direct response to what was previously happening, which is terrorists walking in freely and blowing up a mall every other week.

      September 14, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Laughing

      Israel is a by product of ethnic cleansing.

      Suppose I invaded Cincinatti, and shot or expelled anyone who didn't agree me, and then controlled immigration for fourty years.

      If once my purges were done, I held an election amongst those I had not killed, would you call that a democracy?

      September 14, 2011 at 2:19 pm |
    • Laughing

      @William

      Um......we did do that, see native americans.

      September 14, 2011 at 2:31 pm |
    • Laughing

      Also, to add on, yes that is a democracy, It's holding elections so the government can express that voice rather than make decisions unilaterally. Now, is it right about all the stuff you said before hand, doing the "ethnic cleansing" as it were ( don't know where you find that in israeli history, but ok) but they way you come about a democracy might be good or evil, but its still a democracy regardless

      September 14, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Laughing

      At best it is a represenative republic, and only with representation for those loyal to the zionist agenda.

      September 14, 2011 at 3:04 pm |
    • Laughing

      @William

      Like I said, Israel is as much a democracy is the US is

      September 14, 2011 at 3:27 pm |
  12. Stoopid

    Really Jewish community? Really, this is a message to Obama? LOL! Wow. You do realize, even if Obama wins in 2012 he can only stay for another 4 years. How long has the Israeli/Palestinian conflict been going on? I doubt it has anything to do with Obama. But you got a good ol' Republican running the show now, good luck with that. LOL!

    September 14, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
  13. steve, in Phoenix

    Alright.....George, allens, nonimus, albert......but especially George.....Now that you had a little more time to let it sink into your thick heads.....and saw some more of the VIOLENT, RUTHLESS, MERCILESS, VILE anti-semitic sentiment......you might want to reconsider your suicidal political correctness.....By the way, if the best you guys can offer for an argument is some frothing anti-christian, ANTI-SEMITIC HATRED......you just made my point better than I could EVER have......

    September 14, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
    • SCAtheist

      There's that Jewish Persecution Complex again.

      Not liking Israeli policy does not make you anti-semetic. There are lots of good Jews in the humanist/atheist movement for example.

      September 14, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
    • William Demuth

      steve, in Phoenix

      Are you aware the Palestinians are Semites?

      At autopsy, there is no difference between a Jew and Palestinian.

      Understanding that, how can a Pro Palestinian stance be considered Anti Semetic?

      September 14, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
  14. Paul

    Aren't Jews hated mostly my democrats and the left? And yet Jews are mostly democrat and left. Go figure.

    September 14, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
    • SCAtheist

      I guessed you missed that KKK thing.

      September 14, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
    • Honestly

      Most Americans don't even know where Israel is let alone EVEN CARE about this conflict. We barely know where to find Iraq on the map even though we've been entangled with them for over 10 years now. Sorry it's true.

      September 14, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Are you serious?

      Have you ever even met a Jew?

      September 14, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
    • Dennis

      KKK are mostly Democratic southern Dixiecrats who also held up the Civil Rights Act. History and reality s not kind to Democrats

      September 14, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
  15. tzvikf

    Obama may be throwing Israel under the bus but the democrats have thrown the USA under a train. Tax and spend governent, support for the lazy, over regulation, and government idocy don't appeal to Jews either. Many Jews have moved away from the democratic party over the last 20 years.

    September 14, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
  16. Unknown

    Frankly I think Obama is doing everything Israel's interest by refusing to recognize a Palestinian coming Sep 20 and vetoing a resolution that made the West Bank settlements illegal. Sure there are apparent tensions between him and Benjamin Netanyahu, but that is only happening because of a little PR campaign.

    September 14, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
    • clearvoice1

      Percentage of jewish living in the United states of America 1.7%
      Percentage of power and money under jewish control 99.99%
      It's time to call the United States of America the 7th district of Isreal.

      September 14, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
  17. rubes bjorkman

    what is going on here?

    September 14, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
  18. Frank Rizzo

    Jewish voters are NOT the decision factor in any Election, I wish CNN and the rst of the media would stop giving them so Kudos. The Hispanic Voter and African American Voters carry more weight and numbers now that's the truth.

    September 14, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
    • SCAtheist

      I thought you died in 1991 – oh that was the other Frank Rizzo. They made a difference in this election – check the Sienna polls.

      September 14, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
  19. Dennis

    Glad to see all you liberal racists coming out of the closet. Should be a real wakeup call to the rest of Jewish Democrats.

    September 14, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
    • Paqrat137

      What should be a wake up call? Please explain.

      September 14, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
    • karek40

      Everyone is seeing the lack of support current democrats at the top levels have for Israel, even the liberals.

      September 14, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
    • Jason

      I wasn't aware that "Jew" was a race. What distinguishes Jews, racially, from your garden variety middle eastern Arab?

      September 14, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
    • Anomic Office Drone

      @ Jason
      AIPAC

      September 14, 2011 at 2:24 pm |
  20. Gabriel Y Ruiz

    wait a minute, is there a new york in israel as well? i am confused. we no only pay their bills now we hold their elections too?

    September 14, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
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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 and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.