Michael Tomasky at the Daily Beast laments Obama's "low" poll numbers among Jews:
The poll, conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute in early April, found that 62 percent of 1,004 American Jews surveyed said that they would vote for Obama. That sounds like an agreeable enough figure until you recall that he got 78 percent of the Jewish vote in 2008.
and J.J. Goldberg at The Forward worries over the flight of Jewish money from the Obama campaign:
No less alarming, Republicans are faring better than Democrats among wealthy Jews (including those giving less than $1 million). That’s unprecedented.And if Obama manages to make up the shortfall through small online donations, a feat he mastered in 2008, what are the implications for Jewish influence in the Democratic Party?On the other hand, what if these new Jewish mega-donors become a force within the GOP? Most of them appear to be entrepreneurs and investors alienated by Obama’s fiscal policies. Many are outspokenly progressive on issues like abortion, gay rights and the environment. If they end up gaining the clout their donations suggest, then liberals might have to rethink their fear and loathing of the other party. Watch the money.
The right is quick to pick up on this because it fits with there desired narrative that American Jews will abandon the Democrat party and come over the Republicans. Jonathan Tobin at Commentary Magazine details it quite well. No doubt that the Republicans think that this serves them well.
Personally, I believe that this is just a classic "rope-a-dope" strategy. That means the Democrats are overplaying the depth of Obama's Jewish problem to set expectations as low as possible and will overstate any positive trend in Jewish opinion between now and the election. When the Jewish poll numbers bounce back after the inevitable Democrat counter push, they will declare the Romney has somehow lost the Jewish vote.
It isn't hard to spot their strategy to improve their position among American Jews. Just look at the Jewish Values Survey 2012, done by the Public Religion Research Center. This survey was less a Jewish Values survey than it was a How American Jews Values Will Impact How They Vote in the Upcoming Presidential Election Survey. Almost all of the questions were political and carefully looking at the results will give you a good idea what line of attack will be used to convince the Jewish community to renew Obama's presidency.
For example, the survey results say that more than 8 in 10 Jews (87%) view the Holocaust are somewhat or very important in informing their political beliefs and activities... and then you have an Obama speech at the American Holocaust Museum and the establishment of the US office to oversee actives to prevent genocide... (too bad he appointed someone who has an anti-Israel record to head up this office, but the details are not important.)
Also, the survey reports that nearly two thirds of Jews (64%) want the government to do more to reduce the gap between rich and poor and that 81% of American Jews support the idea of a tax on American making $1 million a year or more. Both of these are talking points that I would expect to see from the Democrats between now and November.
Finally, the Jews who responded to this survey were asked about their opinion of three different religious groups: Muslims, Evangelical Christians, and you guessed it... Mormons. Why did they ask Jews about Mormons? Of course it is because of Mitt Romney... if Rick Santorum would have been polling better they probably would have asked about Catholics as well.
Of the three groups, Mormons fared the best with a rating of 47 on a 100 point scale. Muslims were second at 41.4 and the Evangelical Christians were a distant last place with 20.9. So, if Romney appoints an Evangelical Christian as his running mate, this will be hammered away in the Jewish community to erode Jewish support for Romney. I am sure that they were disappointed that American Jews regarded Mormons more highly (by almost 2.5 times) than Evangelical Christians.
More insidious is the effort to create problems between the Jewish and Mormon communities where none really exist. I would suspect that we will begin to see articles about tensions between the Mormon and Jewish communities... We have already seen a few of these such as Elie Wiesel's call to have Romney stop the posthumous baptism of Holocaust victims into the Mormon Church, a practice which is already banned in the Mormon Church. Then as if by magic, a few days later there was a widely reported Associated Press story that Anne Frank may have been baptized by a Mormon church somewhere in the Dominican Republic. The story turned out to be unverifiable and it didn't really catch on in the American Jewish community because of the relatively good opinion Jews have of the Mormon Church.
The bottom line is that the Democratic Party will be looking very hard for any sign of antisemitism in Mitt Romney or his running mate in the coming months. Any ambiguous statement will be misconstrued and magnified by the media. Absent any major gaff, I am sure that they have a few more planted stories up their sleeve and I will will point them out when I see them.