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October 09, 2008 - Image 32

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2008-10-09

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A32

Barack Obama at a campaign appearance in North Carolina last month.

October 9 . 2008

B

arack Obama has hit a wall
of Jewish indecision. The
American Jewish Committee
survey published two weeks ago shows
the Democratic presidential nomi-
nee still hovering around 60 percent
among Jewish voters.
His big problem: the undecideds.
The U.S. senator from Illinois scored
57 percent, compared to 30 percent
of respondents who said they would
vote for his Republican rival, Sen. John
McCain, R-Ariz. That's consistent with
two other major polls taken since May.
If Obama's figure holds, he would
finish about 15 points behind the 75
percent of the Jewish vote that Sen.
John Kerry, D-Mass., won in 2004.
"He seems to have reached a plateau:'
said David Singer, the AJC's research
director.
He noted that Jews among the party
faithful are strongly supportive of their
respective candidates, with 81 percent
of Jewish Democrats backing Obama
and 84 percent of Jewish Republicans
backing McCain. "In the past, Jewish
independents usually in their voting
behavior tended to go Democratic"
by this point in the campaign, Singer

said. "It's this group that seems to be
hesitating."
The AJC survey found an even
split among Jewish independents for
McCain and Obama — with 20 per-
cent still undecided.
Part of the explanation is McCain's
popularity among Jews relative to
President Bush, who garnered only 24
percent of the Jewish vote in 2004 even
after four years of what was widely
seen as consistently strong support for
Israel. Iv1cCain's appeal combines simi-
lar support for Israel with a reputation
as a moderate — one that Jewish
Democrats say is no longer deserved
after McCain picked a staunch reli-
gious conservative, Alaska Gov. Sarah
Palin, as his running mate.
A similar poll conducted by the AJC
four years ago, in September 2004,
showed Kerry at 69 percent and Bush
at 24 percent. Kerry ultimately per-
suaded the undecideds to vote for him
six weeks later.
Whether Obama can do the same
in the time remaning before the elec-
tion with twice as many undecideds
up for grabs is a worrying question for
Democrats. They say that a Republican
campaign depicting Obama as overly
sympathetic to Palestinians and as
insufficiently confrontational with
Iran, as well as an Internet-based
campaign falsely depicting Obama

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