As you know, conservatives have been engaged in a full-throttle campaign to distort Obama’s positions on Israel, as part of a comically transparent effort to achieve the almost-never-realized conservative dream of driving a wedge between Jewish voters and the Democratic Party. Some on the right have confidently asserted that Obama’s recent speeches on the Middle East have finally unmasked his hostility to Israel and his shameful (if carefully disguised) sympathy for Palestinians.
In that context, you’d think this Pew poll would be getting a bit more attention:
Regarding the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, far more Americans continue to say they sympathize with Israel rather than the Palestinians (by 48% to 11%). These opinions are little changed from recent years.
A plurality (50%) says Barack Obama is striking the right balance in the Middle East situation, while 21% say he favors the Palestinians too much. There has also been no change in these views over the past year; in April 2010, 47% said Obama struck the right balance and 21% said he favored the Palestinians too much.
Barely more than a fifth of Americans agree with the right’s contention that Obama has revealed himself as too pro-Palestinian even though they’re also far more disposed to sympathize with Israel.
And that’s not all. Not even Republicans and white evangelicals — who appear to be one of the target audiences of the campaign to paint Obama as anti-Israel — are willing to go along in any greater numbers with this nonsense:
Even among Republicans and white evangelicals -- who already were more likely to say that Obama tilts too much toward the Palestinians -- there has been no significant increase in the percentages expressing this view since last year.
Unfortunately, Pew tells me that the sample of Jewish Americans surveyed is too small to indicate whether there's been any movement among them on these questions. I have no doubt that Obama’s reelection team is worried about this possibility; they’d be committing malpractice if they didn’t worry about everything that might go wrong. But as I and Ben Smith have both pointed out, it’s highly unlikely that Obama will lose a meaningful amount of Jewish support in the end.
To be sure, the campaign to paint-Obama as anti-Israel isn’t just about Israel. As I’ve noted before, it’s also part of an effort to feed a broader narrative, in which the Kenyan Muslim Marxist in the White House harbors seething hostility and ill will towards a fellow western-style democracy struggling to survive against existential threats from hordes of Arab and Muslim enemies. I don’t know how you measure whether that subtext is gaining any traction, but the first national poll taken since Obama’s Mideast speeches seems to demonstrate clearly that the American public overwhelmingly rejects the topline argument conservatives are making about them.
UPDATE: The poll shows that less than half of Republicans, 40 percent, say Obama is too pro-Palestinian, only marginally more than the 31 percent who say he strikes the right balance. Among white evangelicals, the numbers are 39-33 — and neither category has shifted much at all since last year.
UPDATE II: It gets even better. I just got a further breakdown of the numbers from Mike Dimock, the associate director at Pew Research, and he tells me that a plurality of those who are more sympathetic with Israel also say Obama has the balance right.
Of those who are more sympathetic to Israel, 49 percent say he strikes the right balance, versus only 38 percent who say he favors the Palestinians too much.