Smoky Mountains Sunrise

Monday, July 9, 2012

Jewish Financiers Abandon Obama

 Democrats beware: Jewish money is on the move.

Barack Hussein Obama bows to Saudi King Abdullah

By Lawrence Solomon

Even before the Supreme Court upheld Obamacare last Thursday, leading more than 50,000 outraged Americans to send Mitt Romney more than $5-million by the following day, the Obama re-election campaign was hurting. “I will be the first president in modern history to be outspent in his re-election campaign, if things continue as they have so far,” Obama wrote small donors early in the week, in imploring them to open their pocketbooks. By the end of the week he was making a similar plea to big donors, stressing urgency in getting cash fast, to secure ads for the fall.

“What we don’t want to do is be in a situation where, because everybody thinks that somehow we’re gonna win or people will just think Mr. Romney doesn’t know what he’s talking about — and then suddenly we get surprised later because it turns out that a couple of billionaires wrote $20-million checks and have bought all the TV time and we find ourselves flat-footed in September or October,” Obama explained to them in a telephone call from Air Force One.

At the launch of its re-election bid in April 2011, Obama’s campaign famously boasted that it would raise a record $1-billion, enabling it to vastly outspend its Republican contender, as in the 2008 election where Obama’s $778-million more than doubled John McCain’s $384-million. Today, Obama’s campaign fears it will fall far short of $1-billion. Suddenly, it is Romney who is expected to exceed the $1-billion mark — last month he raised $100-million, a record for a Republican candidate, despite recent criticism from other Republicans that his campaign is lacklustre.

What happened to Obama’s missing money and where is Romney’s windfall coming from? The unexpected $5-million Romney received after the Supreme Court decision doesn’t begin to explain the hundreds of millions of dollars that are materializing for the Republicans, or the hundreds of millions in the Obama projection that went “poof.” Only one explanation plausibly explains the sea change that appears to be underway: Jewish money is on the move.

Jews, who represent but 2% of the U.S. population, rarely loom large in discussions of presidential politics and on the few occasions when Jews are discussed, the context is usually the ballot box. The Jewish vote can be a factor in some swing states, particularly Florida, where Jews comprise almost 5% of the population. Yet Jews are electorally important out of all proportion to their numbers because of their jaw-dropping willingness to underwrite liberal causes and Democratic candidates.

The precise extent to which Jews fill the Democratic Party’s war chest in each campaign is unknown because the Federal Election Commission does not require donors to disclose their religion. But informed estimates abound. Jews account for 50% to 60% of the total campaign monies that Democrats receive, according to political writers at various newspapers, among them The Washington Post and The Jerusalem Post. The Washington bureau chief of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, a venerable international news agency supported by the world’s leading Jewish donors, believes that the figure could reach 67%.

These estimates roughly jibe with those of many academics who have written on the subject. As one example, Prof. Steven Windmueller, author of Jewish Polity and American Civil Society, believes that Jewish donors have accounted for up to 45% of Democratic funding. As another, Henry Feinstein, also an authoritative historian of Jewish-American politics, puts the number at over 60% in his book, Jewish Power in America. These estimates, which vary in part because they refer to different election cycles, stem from numerous sources, including scuttlebutt from Democratic Party fundraisers, from scrutiny of the publicly disclosed names of donors, and from marketers of lists of Jewish donors.

The passion with which Jews support Democratic candidates is matched by an almost visceral allegiance — even in elections where most Americans abandon Democrats, such as in 1984 when Ronald Reagan swept 49 states against Walter Mondale, 67% of Jews voted for Mondale. According to pollsters, Jews are more than twice as liberal as the rest of the American population as a whole and more likely to vote Democratic than members of any other religion, than single women, than youths, than almost any other demographic in American political life. In the 2008 presidential election, close to 80% of the Jewish vote went for Obama.

In 2012, the Jewish allegiance to Democrats and liberal causes will mostly remain unchanged. As for the Jewish allegiance to Obama, change is afoot. Many Jews have taken the measure of the man and found him wanting. Although many will continue to support him financially, if only modestly, much of the smart money is going elsewhere.

Take George Soros, arguably the most astute and the most consequential philanthropist in the political arena. In 2008, he marshalled many of his philanthropies to assure that Obama would win both the Democratic nomination over Hillary Clinton and the presidency over John McCain. But Obama came up short as president, as Soros has publicly stated, leading him to place his money — US$100-million of it this election cycle — elsewhere. Instead of working to re-elect Obama, whom he views as no better than Romney, Soros is promoting liberal causes such as abortion rights and the environment and improving the Democratic Party’s infrastructure, to enable it to win elections at all levels.

Numerous other affluent Jews are likewise disenchanted with Obama. Mort Zuckerman, the billionaire CEO of Boston Properties and publisher of U.S. News and World Report, told The Wall Street Journal that Obama had lost moral authority by being divisive, by inciting populist anger, by failing to lead — in effect by putting politics ahead of his country’s interests. “I long for a triple-A president to run a triple-A country,” this former backer of Obama laments, making it clear that he’s not alone in his dismay. What other Democrats “say about [Obama] when he’s not in the room, so to speak, is astonishing.”

Obama’s financial loss from diehard Democrats who have cooled on him would explain little of Romney’s gain. The bulk of Romney’s gain — measured in the hundreds of millions of dollars — is coming largely from Jews who previously hadn’t seen the presidential stakes as being so high. Obama’s first term has awakened them from their slumber, making some Jews suspicious of him, others fearful, still others angry. The irony is that the man who has lost the goodwill of so much of America’s Jewry believes he knows more about Judaism than any other president in history, as he told a gathering of American rabbis. This misplaced confidence in his understanding of Jews, as we will see in the next instalment of this series, could cost him the election.

No comments: