September 14th, 2011

The Jews of NY District 9

The day after the special election to replace Rep. Weiner was won by the Republican Turner over the Democrat Weprin, a few things are clear:

(1) A district that is ordinarily 3-1 Democrat went strongly for a Republican candidate, giving him an 8% margin of victory.

(2) A district that went for Obama by 11% in 2008 went strongly for a Republican candidate.

(3) A district that gave Weiner a 20% margin of victory in 2010 (a year that was mostly a Republican tsunami nationwide) went strongly for a Republican candidate.

(4) The district has a very unusual composition ethnically and religiously: 1/3 of voters are Jews, and 1/3 of those are Orthodox. However, the losing Democrat was an Orthodox Jew and the winning Republican a Catholic.

It’s difficult to know exactly what this all might mean in the long run—except that I think it’s safe to say that, although it may be “good for the Jews”, it’s not good for Obama. Was the main issue here the president’s lack of support for Israel, or generalized discontent with the economy, or other factors such as Democrat Weprin’s vote for same-sex marriage (which is against Orthodox Jewish law), or some combination of them all? Only the voters know for sure, and I haven’t seen any exit polls to indicate which of these was most important.

Turner’s victory cannot be explained by saying that in general, Orthodox Jews tend to be more Republican. Although they indeed do, the voting results in this district for 2008 and 2010 make it clear that many there who voted Democratic just a short while ago had to have changed their vote to Republican now. And when Jews start to desert the Democratic Party, the Democrats have got to feel the ground shaking beneath them.

This Jerusalem Post article explains a bit more about why:

Ari Fleischer, former spokesman to president George W. Bush, said at a panel discussion at the AIPAC conference in May that if Obama wins over the Jews 4:1, as he did last time, he wins the next election; but that if he only takes the Jews 3:1, he’s in trouble. A shift of a few percentage votes among Jews in 2012 in key battleground states with large Jewish populations such as Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania could have a huge impact in a close presidential race.

Though some will say that the Jews who live in the Queens and Brooklyn neighborhoods that make up the 9th district that was up for grabs Tuesday – the district that once belonged to disgraced ex-congressman Anthony Weiner – are not reflective of American Jewish demographics: that the Jews there are more religious and Russian than the national average, which makes them more conservative. However, the Jewish demographics in southern Florida, where presidential elections have been won and lost before, does reflect to some degree the demographics in Queens and Brooklyn, as many of the Jews in south Florida hail from areas represented in the contested congressional district: Kew Gardens, Forest Hills, Sheepshead Bay.

Jews are a very small group, representing only 1.7% of the population of the US. However, as Fleischer points out, a change in the Jewish vote can affect totals in large states that will be exceedingly important in 2012. Weprin seems to be less an anomaly and more the canary in Obama’s mine.

29 Responses to “The Jews of NY District 9”

  1. Artfldgr Says:

    the big deal is none of that BS…

    he put on a yarmulke and then kept mentioning he was jewish… and referencing childhood attendance

    but the deal breaker was his speech on the senate where he said he was FOR abortion, and that the faith of orthodox jews was also for it… as was the bible…

    the way an author put it:

    it would be like putting a Teffelim on a pig and saying the rabbi said it was kosher

  2. Richard Aubrey Says:

    I believe the dem supported the Cordoba mosque.

    If so, it’s pretty close, in terms of being in the same city, anyway, to some of those who understand pogrom in their bones instead of in school.

  3. Hong Says:

    I hate ethnic politics. It feeds into the conspiracy of the anti-semites. No doubt if Obama loses, the Jew haters from MSNBC, BBC, to Al-Jazeera will blame it on the Jews rather than on the stellar incompetence and ignorance of our executive.

    It was probably the economy. Weprin didn’t help himself by being an obnoxiously liberal candidate who made the mistake of calling same sex marriage observant of his jewish faith. He displayed remarkable ignorance about the true size of our national debt claiming it to be only $4 trillion. It torpedoes any chance he had of being taken seriously defending Obama’s economic policies.

    I don’t think most Jews, Orthodox or otherwise care that much about Israel. The Orthos don’t serve in the Israeli armed forces so what do they care and the secular Jews glean their news from the same Democrat sources as their gentile friends. Both are truly ignorant of the strategic picture in the Middle East.

    My fellow Koreans don’t give a damn about Communist North Korea and don’t understand the situation there either. They, as I’m sure the Jews do, cherish a mirage of hopeful lies of rapprochement with their insane neighbor(s). We take too much from this election to think it’s a fundamental turnaround. It’s the economy stupid. Any group would’ve turned on Obama for that.

  4. neo-neocon Says:

    Hong: I disagree; most Orthodox Jews care deeply about Israel. And I don’t need a poll to tell me that.

  5. Curtis Says:

    This. is. good. Feels good. Like it should.

    I’m almost happy enough to break out in cadence. What the hell:

    C-130 rollin down the strip.

    Airborne daddy gonna take a little trip.

    Hook up, buckle up, shuffle to the door.

    Kick Obama out the door.

    Hello.

  6. Tesh Says:

    I still find it baffling that most Jewish votes go to the D side in the first place. I know, inertia and all that, but seriously… people gotta pay attention.

  7. Parker Says:

    I hope this surprising margin for the republican in such a democrat infested district is a harbinger of things to come in 2012.

    Curtis, thanks for the laugh!

    “I hate ethnic politics. It feeds into the conspiracy of the anti-semites. No doubt if Obama loses, the Jew haters from MSNBC, BBC, to Al-Jazeera will blame it on the Jews rather than on the stellar incompetence and ignorance of our executive.”

    I agree that ethnic politics are damaging to a society. But if Obama loses it will be blamed on the racist, gun totting, bible thumping, redneck tea partiers.

  8. Richard Aubrey Says:

    Curtis.
    Airborne mama, don’t you cry.
    You’ll get his jump pay, by and by.
    Trying to teach my granddaughter, when her parents aren’t around.
    You remember anything about Louis Hershey?
    If they’re gonna get me, then I’m gonna get you,
    And we’ll all be dead by the winter of sixty-nine.
    Where was I?
    Oh, yeah. In this case, maybe we have reciprocal depression. When he feels bad, we feel good, etc. Better than all of us down at once.

  9. rickl Says:

    Sure, this election was good news, but after all, these are the same Orthodox voters who elected Schumer and Weiner. I’ll need to see some more evidence that they have woken up and/or changed.

    I read somewhere that it was Weprin’s support for gay marriage that was the deal-breaker. If that’s the case, then this may be a one-off event and the voters will return to their normal habits next time.

  10. Hong Says:

    Neo,

    Based on what? Admittedly I have no personal connection with Orthodox Jews but they don’t serve in the military. That’s usually a sign of a weak allegiance and so many live off the state so how much interest can such a class truly have? Just how concerned are any dependent class on the survival of their neighbors during wartime? I find it difficult to believe orthodox Jews are any different when they seem to invest so little in Israel’s survival.

  11. Curtis Says:

    Hong,

    Not being snarky, but Israel, the promised land, belongs to the Jews according to their religion and the more Orthodox you are, the more you take that literally than figuratively. Orthodox Jews care very much about Israel because it is their home, their birthright, and their relationship to Israel is an expression of their communal relationship with God.

    Consider these two sayings: “Next year in Jerusalem” and “May my right arm be cut off if I forget thee, O Jerusalem.” Jerusalem, here, is the same as Israel. Zion, Jerusalem, Israel: means home, protection, shalom.

  12. chuck Says:

    Wikipedia says that Jews are 2.2% of the US population. Where did the 1.7% come from? And what happened to the Russian Jews, did they all move to the US and Israel?

  13. Hong Says:

    Yeah Curtis,

    I know the religious implications but they won’t fight for it is my point. They won’t serve and the Orthos live off the state in many cases. That makes me skeptical about their commitment to protect the homeland. If a Korean said he wouldn’t serve in the Army then I’d assume he really didn’t care about his country. Maybe that’s old fashioned but it worked well in the past.

  14. neo-neocon Says:

    Hong: you are confusing Orthodox Jews with the much smaller subgroup of ultra-Orthodox Jews (the latter are known as haredi). It’s the ultra-Orthodox who often don’t serve.

    In fact, Orthodox Jews are over-represented in the Israeli military. So the situation is in fact the opposite of what you allege.

    As for the ultra-Orthodox, Israel has been stepping up the draft for them.

  15. neo-neocon Says:

    Chuck: the 1.7% figure came from the Wiki page I linked to on “1.7%” in the post. Look at the chart.

  16. Hong Says:

    Neo,

    I stand corrected on the Orthodox label. Still it doesn’t sound smart to draft recruits who clearly do not want to serve. Keep them far from the infantry please.

    I’ll narrow my point to the secular Jews then. I question their allegiance to Israel so any shift to me must be economic. They’ve shown little loyalty to Israel in the past so the difference isn’t social but economic. I’ll be curious to know what the other ‘ethnic blocs’ feel regarding the O. Would their disaffection being higher or lower than the seculars?

  17. bon homme richard Says:

    Hong, you must understand that to most non-Orthodox Jews (Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist and secular) Franklin Roosevelt is still in the White House, Father Coughlin is a conservative talk-show host, Joe McCarthy is still harassing Jewish dentists, and the Cossaks are getting ready to ride down Broadway. Why they believe this is a mystery to me, but they do. Barry O lied to their faces about Jeremiah Wright and it was in one ear and out the other. As a friend said to me in synagogue a few weeks ago, “If Adolph Hitler ran on the Democratic tickets, the Jews would vote for him.” And they would.

  18. Richard Aubrey Says:

    bon homme richard
    Interesting take on the non ultra-orthos. Hmm. Sounds like the guy who worked on my rotator cuffs.
    But, anyway, presuming the exaggeration is not significant, it would seem it’s up to the Christians to save the Jews from themselves, will they or nill they.
    Fortunately, good Christians are not interested, officially anyway, in gratitude.

  19. Liz Says:

    I think I saw an article or two that mentioned that the Democrat did not live in the district that he was trying to get elected to represent.

    If that was correct, it could have also been a very big mark against him. People do like to think that their representative comes from where they live.

  20. Yackums Says:

    I can comment from personal knowledge on the Orthodox/ultra-Orthodox question. I myself am Orthodox (but not ultra), and I have been living in Israel for the last 14 years, prior to which I lived in NY-9 (in the Brooklyn part, my parents have lived in the Queens part of NY-9 for over 20 years).

    On the military question, hardly any American Jews of any persuasion serve in the Israeli military; they are not required to nor is there any expectation of them to do so as they are not Israeli citizens.

    Those who have stated otherwise would be correct if they were referring to military service among Israeli Jews (i.e. those who live in Israel and possess Israeli citizenship). By and large, (plain, non-ultra) Orthodox Jews living in Israel are vastly overrepresented in the military, including in the officers corps, and they are consistently the highest-morale, most-motivated people in the IDF. The ultra-Orthodox (living in Israel), on the other hand, generally have refused to serve, though even that is slowly starting to change as more and more ultra-Orthodox are realizing the many and varied implications of their refusal, which is a whole topic in itself.

    The same goes for the ultra-Orthodox population that is seen, justifiably or not, as “sponging off the state.” This is true in Israel, much less so in America. American ultra-Orthodox all work for a living and are mostly self-sustaining, even to the point that they send lots of money to Israel and Israeli institutions (mostly ultra-Orthodox ones).

    This brings me to my final point. American Orthodox Jews, ultra or non, may not serve in the Israeli military, but consider that a Jewish military is a brand new phenomenon in the grand scheme of time, and military values are barely entrenched at all in Jewish culture. Jews, of course, are the People of the Book, and nothing illustrates Orthodox Jewish support of and identification with Israel like the fact that nearly every family sends their children there for a year (or increasingly, many years) of intensive Jewish studies (this after K-12 education in private Jewish schools), and American Jewish emigration to Israel is overwhelmingly (though not exclusively) Orthodox (I think mostly non-ultra but that’s just a gut feeling).

    Hope I’ve made this a bit clearer.

  21. Hong Says:

    “On the military question, hardly any American Jews of any persuasion serve in the Israeli military; they are not required to nor is there any expectation of them to do so as they are not Israeli citizens.”

    I don’t think anybody here suggested that. The point being made was whether orthodox Jews, in Israel, serve in the armed forces, not those living here. The main focus of the debate was whether Orthodox and secular Jews in both Weiner’s old district and within Israel itself have any attachment to the homeland. I argued nay while others supported your view. It appears that, for now, the yeahs have it.

  22. chris Says:

    stand up, hook up, shuffle to the door
    i show i remember it.

  23. Richard Aubrey Says:

    curtis

    Louis Hershey where are you, hurrah, hurrah,
    Louis Hershey where are you, hurrah, hurrah.
    If they’re gonna get me, then I’m gonna get you,
    Chorus And we’ll all be dead by the winter of Sixty-nine.
    Gets worse.
    You pick your own date for the chorus, presuming you have any idea who Louis Hershey was.

  24. Wry Mouth Says:

    It’s the End Times. That’s my belief, and I’ll stick to the idea that this is just one more proof. :./

  25. bon homme richard Says:

    REMF cadence:

    Why die? Go Supply!
    Stay in the rear, count the gear!

  26. Richard Aubrey Says:

    bon homme richard.
    AG.. Star, star, upon my shield
    Keep me from the battlefield.

  27. Artfldgr Says:

    bon homme richard that was nice..

    your comment as to their zeitgeist (world view) is spot on in a comedic way…

  28. Loretta in Indiana Says:

    This vote is encouraging in many ways. It shows that the Jewish community is not voting based upon identity politics.

    They did not vote for the Jew, just because he was Jewish. Instead, they voted for the best candidate, based on that candidate’s views. It did not matter what his ethnic background was, but is that candidate what is best for America? Clearly, a Conservative, who wants less intrusive government (in all matters) is that candidate.

    Israel is EXTREMELY important to the entire Jewish community — if it disappears, then do we start wandering again for another 2000 years?? Never again!! Diaspora Jews see Israel as a source of pride, a political/cultural haven, and a spiritual/religious home, whether we live there or not.

  29. about black currant oil Says:

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    [...]neo-neocon » Blog Archive » The Jews of NY District 9[...]…

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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