All kinds of cautions are being thrown about in the wake of the stunning upset in New York’s 9th Congressional District, the most Jewish in the country. Ben Smith points out that its large contingent of Orthodox voters are basically just Republicans. Sean Trende, RealClearPolitics’s extraordinarily impressive young number-cruncher, writes, “Jewish voters here still tend to be more conservative than the Jewish communities around Miami or in Manhattan.” Thus, he suggests, their politics may not reflect Jews as a whole outside of the district.
But. But. But. Former Mayor Ed Koch, who endorsed Obama in ’08 and promised he would be a friend of Israel and now feels betrayed, played a role in advancing the “vote for Bob Turner and send a message” case that prevailed last night. Smith writes that “Koch’s appeal, for instance, wasn’t to the Orthodox Jews, but to what State GOP Chairman Ed Cox told me last night was a still-more sizeable population of non-Orthodox Jews in old-line neighborhoods like Forest Hills.”
If true, there’s the really bad news for Obama and the Obama-ites. Those non-Orthodox Jews tend to be older, heritage-proud, and were bathed from youth forward in Zionism. They may be, in other words, a precise analogue to the Jews of South Florida—and if Obama can’t win Florida, he is in deep trouble.
No one is saying a majority of such Jews are going to pull the lever for a conservative Republican like Rick Perry in 2012. But a more significant minority than usual might, and others, disgusted by Obama’s behavior toward the Jewish state, just may stay home.
Even worse, they are already sheathing their checkbooks. As Dan Senor notes in today’s Wall Street Journal, “One poll by McLaughlin & Associates found that of Jewish donors who donated to Mr. Obama in 2008, only 64% have already donated or plan to donate to his re-election campaign.”
So yes, the results in NY-9 may be a canary in the coal mine when it comes to Obama’s dependence on a significant portion of the Jewish vote—not just religious Jews, but old Jews. As of right now, the canary is gasping for air.