web analytics
September 2, 2014 / 7 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat (L) visits the JewishPress.com booth at The Event. And the Winners of the JewishPress.com Raffle Are…

Congratulations to all the winners of the JewishPress.com raffle at The Event



Home » InDepth » Monitor »

Presidential Politics And Jewish Priorities


Media-Monitor-logo

Two decades ago, Jimmy Carter was closing out a stunningly unimpressive four years in the White House. His approval ratings were lower than Richard Nixon’s had been on the eve of his resignation, and even American Jews, that most doggedly loyal constituent group of the Democratic Party, were not immune to the disaffection with Carter suffusing the nation.

At the same time, Jews were hardly rushing to embrace either of the two main alternatives to Carter in the November 1980 election – Ronald Reagan, the conservative Republican former governor of California, and John Anderson, the little-known liberal Republican congressman running a quixotic third-party campaign.

What was it that in the end finally tilted the majority of Jewish voters against Carter (39 percent chose Reagan while 16 percent went with Anderson)? According to various exit polls and post-election studies, the issue that most resonated with a wide cross-section of American Jews – more than the basket-case economy or the Iranian hostage situation or Carter’s uninspiring leadership style – was what they perceived to be the steadily deteriorating relationship between the U.S. and Israel.

(Now, had times been good and Carter viewed as a great success, many of those Jews who voted for Reagan or Anderson would likely have gone with their reflexes and stuck with the Democratic incumbent, despite his increasingly chilly demeanor toward Israel. It was the unusual combination of Carter’s general ineffectiveness and his problematic handling of Israel that ultimately closed the deal for many Jews.)

But 1980 is an anomaly when compared with virtually every other U.S. presidential election going back to the very founding of Israel.

With the possible exceptions of 1948 (when Truman kept a wary eye on the polls as he navigated the minefields of Palestinian partition) and 1976 (when fresh memories of Ford and Kissinger’s “reassessment” of American-Israeli relations, short-lived as it was, helped many in the Jewish community overcome their initial discomfort with the unfamiliar born-again Southerner Carter), Jews have repeatedly demonstrated that when it comes to choosing a president, domestic issues clearly outrank concern for Israel.

It’s true, of course, that a relatively small number of Jews who might otherwise have been disposed toward Bob Dole in 1996 voted instead for Bill Clinton because they were uncertain of Dole’s commitment to Israel. And it’s equally true that some Jews who voted for George Bush in 1988 abandoned him in 1992 because of his Middle East policies. But one has to go all the way back to 1980 for the last presidential election in which the votes of an appreciable number of Jews were decided primarily by concern for Israel.

The one unchanging political rule of thumb in American Jewish life is simply this: It matters little whether a candidate is the incumbent or the challenger, whether his record on Israel is solid or not, whether Israel is at peace or at war. Ultimately the lion’s share of Jewish votes – anywhere from 65 to 90 percent – will go to the Democrat.

The average Jewish vote for Republican presidential candidates since 1948 has been just under 25 percent.

The phenomenon might be understandable in elections where there is no discernable difference between the candidates’ views on the Middle East – Eisenhower vs. Stevenson in 1952 and 1956, Bush vs. Dukakis in 1988 – but it takes on a more mystifying aspect when viewed against elections where the Republican candidate is clearly superior on Israel-related issues – Nixon vs. McGovern in 1972 and Reagan vs. Mondale in 1984 come immediately to mind.

In 1972, Nixon defeated McGovern in the country at large by a landslide margin of 60.7 percent to 37.5 percent (49 states to 1), and while Nixon did double his share of the Jewish vote from the paltry 17 percent he received four years earlier, the startling fact remains that McGovern – a weak candidate with no strong ties to Israel or the Jewish community running against an incumbent with a solid record on Israel and a relatively moderate domestic agenda – actually did better among Jews than Adlai Stevenson, a liberal Democrat beloved by Jews, had in 1952 and 1956.

Despite the requisite lip service by Jewish leaders and elected officials, Israel has rarely emerged as a decisive issue for Jews at election time (segments of the Orthodox community excepted). The reason for that is the slavish (no other word will do) devotion of most Jewish voters to liberal ideology and the Democratic Party. The rest is commentary.

About the Author: Jason Maoz is the Senior Editor of The Jewish Press.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Presidential Politics And Jewish Priorities”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
A general view of the Bat Ain community at Gush Etzion.
US Pushes PA Agenda and Tells Israel to Cancel New Gush Etzion Town
Latest Indepth Stories
1347905461_5613_Mideast_Israel_Palestinians_Rosh_Hashana_05475

“these soldiers are on the front lines of a war that the entire world is fighting”

yesha1

Hayovel’s vision: to share with them (Jews) a passion for the soon coming jubilee in yeshua messiah.”

Tibets spiritual leader Dalai Lama.

Dalai Lama: In the interest of Tibetans today to have peaceful co-existence with the Chinese.

Hamas Quote on Death

However, 40+ countries still use capital punishment for a variety of offenses.

The War projects to lower Israel’s 2014 GDP 0.5% but will have little influence on foreign investors

It is in the nature of the Nations of the World to be hostile towards the Jewish People.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad are actually fighting to “liberate Jerusalem and all Palestine.”

The bad news is that ISIS and Al Qaeda are on the Syrian Golan. The good news is that every terrorist in Syria is killing each other.

The congregants, Ethiopians spanning generations, were beaming with joy and pride.

The withdrawal from the Gaza Strip nine years ago did not enhance Israel’s security.

How does a soldier from a religious home fall in love with a soldier from a non- religious kibbutz?

In 19th century entire ancient Jewish communities fled Palestine to escape brutal Muslim authorities

Responsibility lies with both the UN and Hamas, and better commitments should have been demanded from both parties in the ceasefire.

But the world is forever challenging our Jewish principle and our practices.

If this is how we play the game, we will lose. By that I mean we will lose everything.

More Articles from Jason Maoz
Charles Krauthammer

Wye would be seen to have set the groundwork for the creation of a Palestinian state

Presidential-Seal-062014

These are not necessarily the best all-around biographies or studies of the individual presidents listed (though some rank right up there), but the strongest in terms of exploring presidential attitudes and policies toward Israel.

The Clintonan “engagement” liberals remember with such fondness did nothing but embolden Arafat and Hamas and Hizbullah as they witnessed Israel’s only real ally elevate process ahead of policy.

What really makes one wonder about the affinity felt by certain Jews for Grant was the welcome mat he put out for some of the country’s most pernicious anti-Semites.

With 2013 marking half a century since Kennedy’s fateful limousine ride in Dallas, the current revels are exceeding the revisionist frenzies of years past, with a seemingly endless parade of books, articles and television specials designed to assure us that, despite everything that has come to light about him since his death, JFK was a great president, or at least a very good president who would have been great had his life not been so cruelly cut short.

As someone who for the past fifteen years has been writing a column that largely focuses on the news media, I’ve read what is no doubt an altogether unhealthy number of books on the subject. Most of them were instantly forgettable while some created a brief buzz but failed to pass the test of time. And then there were those select few that merited a permanent spot on the bookshelf.

George W. Bush has been getting some positive media coverage lately, with recent polls showing him at least as popular as his successor, Barack Obama, and a big new book about the Bush presidency by New York Times chief White House correspondent Peter Baker (Days of Fire, Doubleday) portraying Bush as a much more hands-on chief executive than his detractors ever imagined.

Readers who’ve stuck with the Monitor over the years will forgive this rerun of sorts, but as we approach the fortieth anniversary of the Yom Kippur War – and with the stench of presidential indecisiveness hanging so heavily over Washington these days – it seemed only appropriate to revisit Richard Nixon’s role in enabling Israel to recover from the staggering setbacks it suffered in the first week of fighting.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/media-monitor/presidential-politics-and-jewish-priorities/2007/10/31/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: