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Obama and the Jewish Vote

Predictably enough, the Republican win in a special election for NY's ninth district has created a new cacophany of claims that the Obama administration's Middle East policies are alienating Jewish voters. Most prominent was Dan Senor's Wall Street Journal op-ed yesterday, which had probably been written days--maybe even weeks or months--earlier.

Eric Alterman has the 411 on Senor and his claims:

Senior is a Republican partisan who publicly considered--and then backed away from--a run for Kirsten Gillibrand's Senate seat. To say that he is rather heavily invested in an analysis that relies more on propaganda than evidence is to state a truism. So, too, Matt Brooks, executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, who argues, "It's very easy to extrapolate to the 2012 election and say Obama is going to have trouble with Jewish voters in battleground states like Ohio, Florida, and Pennsylvania." These two are hardly alone in their views, which threaten to cement into conventional wisdom any minute now. The reporter Ben Jacobs, writing in the Jewish magazine Tablet, insists that "the issue on voters' minds was Israel" and that this accounts for the Democrats' loss.

Reporters always say this kind of thing. But if they stopped to think about it for even a moment they would realize that a) they cannot read people's minds, and b) when tens of thousands of people undertake, individually, to decide between a set of choices, it is foolish to ascribe a single motivation to all of them. (Remember, most of the eligible voters decided to stay home. And let's not forget furthermore that a significant percentage of the district's voters are in fact, Catholic.)...

As unpopular as Barack Obama may be with some Jews, remember that New York City Republicans are not a lot like "real Republicans," those nutty folk who keep debating one another about whether America should let sick, poor people die or give them the death penalty. And for those Jews who might think of straying next year, Democrats have two words for them: "Rick Perry."

That's a good thing to keep in mind when predictions are made of this or that constituency abandoning Obama. There will be at least two presidential candidates on the ballot.