The myth of Obama's "Jewish problem"

The president's top Jewish fundraisers from 2008 are sticking with him, according to a new report

Published December 19, 2011 4:25PM (EST)

President Obama at the 71st General Assembly of the Union for Reform Judaism on Dec. 16.      (Reuters/Kevin Lamarque)
President Obama at the 71st General Assembly of the Union for Reform Judaism on Dec. 16. (Reuters/Kevin Lamarque)

Almost from the moment President Obama took office, some on the political right have been pushing the idea that his support among Jewish voters -- 78 percent of whom voted for him in 2008 -- has weakened over his administration's policies on Israel-Palestine.

Recent polls suggest that Obama's approval rating among American Jews has softened, but not disproportionately to the drop in his support among the general electorate.

But wait, proponents of the "Obama's Jewish problem" theory have countered, the dynamic could manifest in declining donations from wealthy Jewish donors to the president's reelection.

Today, the Forward's Josh Nathan-Kazis looked at the evidence and found that Obama's most generous American Jewish donors from 2008 are back for 2012:

Despite reports that President Obama faces a loss of Jewish funders due to his Middle East policy, analysis of a list of elite bundlers from his 2008 race shows no defections among the president’s top Jewish supporters in 2012.

In 2008, Obama’s elite “bundlers” — fund raisers who collected more than $500,000 each for the president’s campaign — included many prominent Jews. Aside from those who hold government jobs that bar them from political fundraising, all of them have returned on the 2012 campaign’s list of volunteer bundlers, or are confirmed to be fundraising for the campaign. And a handful of new prominent Jewish bundlers has joined the elite group this year for the first time.

Nathan-Kazis also reports that there are differing views about whether enthusiasm for giving has waned among middle-level Jewish donors. Those numbers are very difficult to quantify. For now, though, the evidence suggests that Obama's supposed "Jewish problem" is a myth.

By Justin Elliott

Justin Elliott is a reporter for ProPublica. You can follow him on Twitter @ElliottJustin

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