Republicans are touting yet another poll that purports to predict the end of the Jewish allegiance to the Democratic Party. Citing a new poll by Republican John McLaughlin and Pat Caddell, the GOP’s favorite “Democrat,” they have convinced themselves that this time, Obama really is in trouble among Jewish voters.
At National Review, Tevi Troy exults that “only 43 percent of Jews plan to vote to reelect Obama in 2012.” Terrible! Except a plurality (48 percent) say they’d “consider” voting for someone else, not that they’d vote for his opponent or that they refuse to vote for him.
McLaughlin’s and Caddell’s poll is laughably bogus. Not only does their sample skew conservative, (only 64 percent of respondents voted for Obama, as opposed to the 77 percent of Jewish votes he actually got) but many questions in the poll are phrased in as leading a manner as possible. Indeed, given the wording of the questions, it’s actually surprising that 63 percent of respondents overall approved of Obama.
Here’s their phrasing for a question on Obama’s policy on Israel:
Considering what President Obama has proposed for Israel just over a year before his 2012 re-election campaign — a return to the 1967 borders, dividing Jerusalem, and allowing the right of return for Palestinian Arabs to Israel — how concerned would you be about President Obama’s policies towards Israel if he were re-elected and did not have to worry about another election?
Prior to being asked this question, respondents were primed by the query: “Should Israel be forced to return to its pre-1967 borders which were susceptible to attack at points where the country was only 8 miles wide?”
Again: Obama hasn’t proposed “a return to the 1967 borders.” He proposed that negotiations begin along those lines with “agreed upon land swaps,” which by definition does not mean a return to the 1967 borders. It’s a position the administration and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had agreed upon months before Netanyahu manufactured a fake controversy over it.
What’s surprisnig is that only 67 percent of Jewish voters in the poll said they were concerned about Obama’s policy towards Israel should he be reelected — this, even though McLaughlin and Caddell invented out of thin air the idea that Obama supports a “right of return” for Palestinian Arabs. Supporters of Israel oppose right of return for Palestinians because they believe that would lead to Israel ceasing to be a Jewish state as a result of demographic changes. This question seems to have been designed to elicit panic about Obama among the poll’s staunchly pro-Israel respondents, but even that wasn’t enough to do it.
The phrasing in this poll is comically skewed towards eliciting the most negative responses possible. As always, the game is to perpetuate the sad conservative meme that this time, really this time, American Jews are going to abandon their liberalism and vote Republican because Obama is a huge anti-Semite. The only thing this poll reveals is how badly some want to keep this storyline going.
Update from Greg Sargent: I asked Washington Post polling manager Peyton Craighill to assess the value of this poll. His answer was unequivocal:
“This is a clear example of advocacy polling. They’ve generated leading questions to elicit a desired result to prove a point. In no way does this represent neutral, independent research.”
The only thing this poll reveals is the lengths some folks will go to in order to keep alive the storyline that Obama is forever on the verge of losing Jewish support — a claim they evidently hope will become a self-fulfilling prophesy if they repeat it often enough.