Adam Serwer and my friend Ron Kampeas have grumbled about the poll I cited yesterday that suggested that only 43 percent of Jews indicated that they planned to vote for Obama in 2012 — well below the 78 percent Obama received in 2008.
Part of their critique is that somehow Pat Caddell’s participation does not make the poll bipartisan. First, Caddell remains a Democrat, even if he is often turned off by his party. But even discounting Caddell, John McClaughlin is a respected pollster whose polls are frequently cited by the media. As for the “push poll” aspect, Matt Robinson makes the case in his book Mobocracy that there are multiple types of so-called push polls. Some, which put out false information — e.g. that someone fathered a child out of wedlock or was arrested for lewd behavior — are scurrilous and designed to slander. Others present charges that are likely to be raised by opponents in a political campaign and are therefore helpful in determining a candidate’s potential weaknesses. Politicians often recognize the value of these issue-oriented polls, while journalists frown on the ones that don’t correspond to their worldview. According to Robinson’s analysis, the McLaughlin-Caddell poll is clearly in the latter camp and suggests that Obama could be in trouble with the Jewish vote — and remember, trouble with the Jewish vote means he gets less than 70 percent of it — if the Republicans frame the case against him on Israel in an effective way. As Commentary’s Jonathan Tobin — who has his own problems with the poll — wrote, the poll still suggests that “it will be difficult for the president to even approach the smashing 77 percent of Jewish voters who chose him in 2008.”
Meanwhile, as Jonah noted earlier, another poll, this one by James Zogby, finds that Obama is less popular than Bush was in the Arab world. This means that Obama’s shifting of U.S. policy away from Bush’s pro-Israel stance – which is prompting the questions about weakening Jewish support for Obama to begin with — is not doing Obama any good in the Arab world, either.