Liberal journalist Michael Tomasky, in a column for the Daily Beast / Newsweek, voiced concern Tuesday that President Barack Obama has lost 16% of his support among U.S. Jews and may lose the elections in key states like Florida, come November. Tomasky, who is also the editor-in-chief of Democracy, analyzed Obama's first term vis-à-vis Israel and concluded that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu outfoxed the President.
Tomasky cites a recent poll by the Public Religion Research Institute, in which 62% of 1,004 American Jews surveyed said that they would vote for Obama, noting that this is a sizeable downturn from 2008, when Obama got 78% of the Jewish vote. The fact that Obama had a similar level of support in April of 2008 does not comfort Tomasky, who notes that “April 2008 was the height of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright affair, and thus the one point that was likely to be Obama’s nadir with Jews."
If the current level of Jewish support for Obama holds, estimates Tomasky, it would be "good enough to carry New York and California (obviously), but maybe not Florida."
Obama might regain half of the lost support by November, but making up the rest may not be possible, the pundit writes, because of Obama’s behavior toward Israel in the past three years.
In the Obama administration's early days, he explains, "Obama talked pretty tough with Netanyahu. He had four fifths of the Jewish vote and thought he had capital… This was back when Obama still thought he really could change Washington through force of his personality."
At the time, Tomasky, too, believed Obama had Netanyahu cornered, and that even Congress was behind the President. But he was wrong, he now admits.
"I wrote that Congress, that always reliable friend of AIPAC, had changed its stripes. This is what I was told at the time. There was even a meeting where Bibi was taken aback, told by Democratic friends and sycophants in the House that things were different now and that he’d better play ball. But he didn’t. He went to his friends on the other side of the aisle, he stalled, he rebuffed, and he won."
Based on Obama's recent speeches at AIPAC and the Holocaust Museum, and on the audience's responses to them, the writer gleans that Obama has made an about-face and is trying to woo back Jewish support he lost when he pressured Israel to make concessions.
In a reaction to Tomasky's piece, Jonathan Tobin writes in Commentary that "the president’s cynical Jewish charm offensive isn’t likely to win back many disenchanted voters who know the difference between conviction and an election-year conversion."
While the majority of Jewish voters are partisan Democrats who are unlikely to oppose the party's nominee no matter what he does, writes Tobin, "there is a critical mass of Jewish swing voters — whose numbers may exceed the 16 percent difference between Obama’s current level of Jewish support and his 2008 total — who are sufficiently disgusted with his overall performance and specifically concerned about his record on Israel to possibly vote for a moderate conservative alternative this fall."
Another influential columnist, David Goldman -- who writes as Spengler in the Asia Times -- analyzed this Jewish rage in an interview with Arutz Sheva in 2010. In the interview, which "went viral" at the time, Goldman said that Jewish leaders felt they had been "swindled" by Obama and quoted a top Jewish campaign donor who used the word 'sociopath' to describe the president.