Jewish Journal


Election roundup: Jewish souls, Jewish rabbis, Jewish vote, Jewish legislators

by Shmuel Rosner

September 4, 2012 | 11:13 am

President Barack Obama addressing the AIPAC conference in Washington D.C., March 2012. (Photo: Reuters)

Talmudic souls

You've got to love this Alan Solow quote:‎

Alan Solow, a longtime friend of the president from Chicago who recently served ‎as chair of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish ‎Organizations, took a more personal tack in selling “the first Jewish president of ‎the United States.” “At the risk of stereotyping us, he thinks like a Jew,” he said, ‎likening Obama’s decision-making process to a Talmudic scholar. “I knew it ‎before he was the president, and I’ve seen it every day since he’s been the ‎president.” He added: “Barack Obama has a Jewish soul. He has neshama.”‎

I'd be even happier if Alan could give me some guidelines on this Jewish soul thing. ‎How does one identify a Jewish soul? How is it different from a non-Jewish soul? Does ‎Obama have only a Jewish soul, or does he have other types of souls as well (to know ‎this, I'd have to know if Jewish souls are exclusive or could live harmoniously with ‎other souls in the same person)? Can I also get a Jewish soul, or buy one? Can a ‎Republican have a Jewish soul? Could Romney get one, or buy one? Final point: It is ‎true that the Talmud has a unique "decision making process", but Solow should know ‎that in most cases the Talmud is good on the process and is pretty bad at reaching a ‎decision.‎

Speaking of Talmudic processes, here's what Rabbi David Wolpe, slated to ‎deliver an invocation as the Democratic convention, has to say:‎

‎[W]hile the 54-year-old rabbi said he’s privileged to participate at the ‎DNC - it will be his first political convention - he insists he’s not taking ‎sides in the election by doing so. “I actually think that it is a mistake for ‎a rabbi to endorse one candidate or another,” said Wolpe. “I really see ‎my role as apolitical.” He notes that his congregation, Sinai Temple in ‎Los Angeles, is ideologically diverse and that he has a responsibility to ‎ensure that none of them feel disenfranchised by his convictions.‎


He definitely has a Jewish soul.‎

Jewish-vote math

Nathan Guttman does the math for you:‎

The Jewish vote, Democrats now estimate, could make a difference between ‎victory and defeat for the president. If support for Obama among Jewish voters ‎drops from the estimated 74% he got in 2008 to 68%, as tracking polls now show, ‎the change in key states could be enough to swing the election. If Obama loses ‎‎10% of Jewish votes he won in 2008, that would translate to 85,000 votes in ‎Florida, 41,500 in Pennsylvania and 19,000 in Ohio. Nevada, Colorado and ‎Virginia are also key swing states in which there are significant numbers of ‎Jewish voters.

But why would anyone assume that Obama is going to lost 10% of the Jewish vote? ‎If he got 74% last time, he'd have to get 64% this time for it to be a 10% loss. The polls ‎already put him at 68% - as Guttman reports, but they only put Romney at 25%. This ‎leaves 7% of undecided voters, and even if these are split evenly between Obama ‎and Romney, it will help the president cross the 70% line. In other words, unless we ‎get new polls with new numbers testifying differently, Obama is more likely to lose ‎‎2%-4% than 10%. Now do the math: It can still tip the vote in Florida if it is ‎extremely close, but unlikely to tip it in other states.‎

Counting Jews

We forgot to inform you last week that our House Jewish Projection has been updated. ‎The two Jewish candidates of the Arizona 09 race were eliminated following the victory of ‎Kyrsten Sinema. She is now one step closer to being able to deliver on her pledge to be "a ‎strong voice for Israel in Congress". And we get closer to setting the number of projected ‎Jewish House members at 21 (instead of the current 22).‎

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