Jews Still Support Barack Obama

This isn’t really my beat, but it strikes me as silly to suggest — as New York Times’ Helene Cooper does — that President Obama needs to “mend fences” with the American Jewish community:

The White House effort, which included remarks by senior White House officials before the national leadership conference of the Anti-Defamation League on Monday night, is part of an attempt to reach out to the Israeli public, as well as to the American Jewish community, administration officials said.

Mr. Obama also called the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, on Monday to discuss plans for indirect American-mediated talks between Israelis and Palestinians, which the administration hopes to begin this week in the region.

But it remains unclear whether Mr. Obama’s latest outreach will reassure American Jews and the general public in Israel, where Mr. Obama’s approval ratings have plummeted.

While the Obama administration’s approach to Israel has been the source of some political controversy, there’s vanishingly little to suggest that it has negatively affected his standing with American Jews. As of last fall, Obama’s approval rating among Jewish voters was at 64 percent. This was down from the 83 percent approval rating he enjoyed at the beginning of his presidency, but proportional with his overall slippage. Given the stability in Obama’s approval ratings, there’s no reason to believe that this isn’t still the case and Obama is still very popular with American Jews.

The important thing to remember, and what Cooper seems to have missed, is that the vast majority of Obama’s Jewish critics are on the right, and as such, are mostly unrepresentative of the nation’s Jewish voters. Two-thirds of Jews identify with or lean towards the Democratic Party, and 78 percent of Jews supported Obama on Election Day 2008. What’s more, a solid majority of American Jews — 55 percent — support Obama’s Israel policy. Cooper’s piece is based off a faulty assumption about the nature of Jewish support for Obama, which is incredibly annoying. None of this information is hard to find, and if Cooper had been willing to do a quick Google search, she would have noticed that Obama’s “problem” lies with a distinct minority of Jews.

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Jamelle Bouie

Jamelle Bouie