October 23, 2008
Briefs: Jews back Obama because he’s a Democrat, study says; Ayalon leaves Nefesh B’Nefesh
Jews are backing Sen. Barack Obama based primarily on traditional identification with the Democratic Party, a new study finds. The support has less to do with the presidential candidates' positions on issues or other factors, according to the report released Monday by the Berman Jewish Policy Archive at New York University's Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.
The report attempted to determine why Jews supported Obama by 30 percentage points more than non-Jewish whites did in simultaneous polls taken in early September. The poll of 1,596 Jews was taken by Synovate shortly after the Republican Party convention and before all four debates and the stock market decline.
It found Jews favoring Obama over Sen. John McCain by a 51-25 percent margin, with 24 percent undecided. The authors reconfigured the results to a 67-33 margin for Obama after throwing out the undecided voters. A similar process found 37 percent of non-Jewish whites backing the Democrat.
The report finds that such a discrepancy could not be explained by differences in education or income or by their stands on issues. For example, the study found that Jews are about as equally concerned with social welfare issues -- health care, education and poverty -- as non-Jewish whites and Hispanics and less concerned than blacks.
Instead, the report states support for Obama can best be explained by Jews' "historic, passionate and high significant commitment to the Democratic Party and the liberal camp in America" -- with the numbers showing that Jews are "excessively" connected to the party and a liberal political identity.
Israel fell in the middle -- eighth out of 15 -- when Jews were asked how to rate their issues of importance. Those who rated Israel more important also were more likely to back McCain.
Ayalon Steps Down at Nefesh B'Nefesh
Nefesh B'Nefesh announced the resignation of co-chairman Danny Ayalon, the former Israeli ambassador to the United States, on Sunday. Ayalon, who served in the position for nearly two years, said he is leaving to pursue "an independent political career opportunity."
Ayalon was instrumental in enhancing the aliyah organization's strategic partnerships with Israeli government bodies and agencies, as well as within the Jewish world. During his tenure, the Israeli government made the unprecedented decision to support private aliyah organizations in September 2007, and a historic cooperation agreement was reached with the Jewish Agency for Israel.
"It has been extremely rewarding to dedicate myself to bringing Jews to their homeland and helping them integrate into a wonderful and purposeful life here in Israel," Ayalon said. "I feel it is the ultimate means to building and securing the future of the State of Israel and the Jewish people. Nefesh B'Nefesh represents one of the most historic, extraordinary undertakings of our time."
Briefs courtesy Jewish Telegraphic Agency