On July 6, 2011, Yeshiva World News posted an article by Dick Morris, headlined “Dick Morris: Obama Losing Jewish Vote.” Putting aside the source of this story – Dick Morris, Fox News talking head and Republican political consultant – there is a lot in the article that does not add up.
For starters, Mr. Morris tells us that Jews would give President Obama only 56% of their votes if he were to run – today – against a generic Republican. Of course, the election ain’t today, and when there is an election, the candidate won’t be generic. The real candidate will have his or her own set of warts, not to mention whatever bruises may be inflicted by his/her fellow Republicans in the primaries. That is unfortunate for the Republicans, since most other surveys indicate that Mr. Obama does significantly better – today – against all other Republicans than the generic one. Surveys 15 months in advance of an election have little predictive value.
The article claims that Mr. Morris interviewed 1,000 Jews in 7 days (assuming he observed Shabbos). That means he interviewed 143 Jews per day. Assuming he worked an 8-hour day, that’s 19 Jews per hour, with three minutes for a glass of water or a bathroom break. Either Mr. Morris had some unacknowledged help, or he set a world record in several bizarre categories, including being able to interview a Jew in only 3 minutes.
But here’s the part that clearly undermines the results of the survey. The article states in 3rd paragraph: “After asking basic questions of the entire sample, I proceeded to drill down with more detailed questions for the Jews in the sample who identified themselves as Democrats.” Mr. Morris does not define “drilling down” for his readers, and if there was not a set script, capable of independent evaluation, and a set of protocols for the interviewer to follow when “drilling down,” then there can be no assurance that the interviewer did not “drill down” in a way that, intentionally or not, elicited answers that the interviewer was looking for. In that same paragraph, Mr. Morris states: “The overall survey has a 95 percent confidence of a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percent.” Mr. Morris does not tell us the difference, if any, between the “overall survey” and the findings he highlights or the conclusions he reaches based on the raw data he “drilled down to”. He also does not explain why he discloses the margin-of-error measure in an upside down way: it is usually stated as a margin of error followed by a statement about the percentage by which the margin of error itself is repeatable.
Mr. Morris then jumps to a conclusion about which he asked only one question – who would you vote for if the election is held today and the Republican candidate is unknown. That is scant support for his conclusion that Jews will not in the future vote for or support Mr. Obama. Instead, Mr. Morris tells us: “Given the importance of Israel to the Jewish Democratic voters of the United States, it is clear that Obama is playing with fire as he toughens the American foreign policy toward Israel and banks his credibility on the idea that peace is possible simply through Israeli territorial concessions. American Jews — Democrats included — reject the very foundation of Obama’s efforts to achieve peace in the Middle East as ‘naïve.’ ” There is little basis in the survey – as reported in Mr. Morris’s article – for this conclusion. Mr. Morris did not ask his sample about the “importance of Israel to the Jewish Democratic voters of the United States”; instead, he takes it as a given. And Mr. Morris’s conclusion overlooks the fact, among others, that Mr. Obama has not yet begun his campaign. Even Mr. Morris would concede that Mr. Obama is a pretty good campaigner.
Mr. Morris gets very sloppy when discussing – with his sample and in his article – a return to the ’67 borders. President Obama never proposed a return to the ’67 borders. He proposed the ’67 borders as a starting point for negotiations, with mutually acceptable adjustments, for final borders of the State of Israel and a Palestinian state. If the Israeli government wants the ’67 borders plus 100% of the West Bank, or 95% or 50% of the West Bank, or just the existing Israeli settlements plus a protective security or buffer zone, President Obama made it clear that that is for negotiation between the Israeli government and the representatives of the Palestinian people, not for proclamation by the United States, nor – significantly – by the United Nations or anybody else. That is no different than US policy since the end of the ’67 war. Mr. Morris’s survey question presents “both sides” of an issue on which the President clearly took a position on the side of Israel, i.e., that Israel should not return to the ’67 borders. The 82% vs. 8% response to the 2-sided question, contrary to Mr. Morris’s assertion, has 82% of respondents agreeing with President Obama’s position that the final (but pre-Moshiach) borders of the State of Israel should be determined by negotiations between the State of Israel and representatives of the Palestinian people.
Mr. Morris concludes by getting his history wrong –Jewish voters’ preference for the Democratic party goes back considerably before Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt in the 1930’s, and has continued long after the 20th-century increases in Jewish educational, occupational and income levels would predict their switch to the Republican party. I think that Jewish adherence to the Democratic party when their American success would otherwise put them in the Republican party is a testament to the fundamental Jewish values of chesed and tzedakah. I do not have a poll to support that notion, but Mr. Morris does not have a poll – at least not a scientific one – that reliably predicts that Jewish support for President Obama will materially erode 15 months from now.
Andy Branower is an uncredentialed political analyst and registered Democrat who voted for Bob Dole for President in 1996 and John B. Anderson, a Republican who ran for President as an independent, in 1980.
NOTE: The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of YWN.
Eh, shvach. There is no question he’s losing jewish support and overall us support.
that’s how all poles work
Ideologues on both sides of the spectrum tend to dismiss any data that is contrary to their preconceived notions. The “progressive” wing of the Democratic party does that when the issue is whether we need to reduce enrtitlement spending…Republicans do that when the issue involves taxes…and you, tina18, are doing it now in the context of this article.
Why does YWN have to post an op-ed from this liberal?
1. Everyone knows that the 1967 borders do not exist: that phrase is used – incorrectly – to the ceasefire lines that resulted after the 1949 War for Independence.
2. Israel is not that important to most American Jews, with the exception of the Orthodox and Russian communities.
3. Is there any reason why Morris could not interview a Jew in three minutes? I think it’s plenty of time.
4. The land of Israel belongs exclusively and entirely to the people of Israel. There has never been a country called “Palestine,” and so there is no legal or historical precedent for establishing such a state today – especially when doing so would involve amputating Israel and taking away Judea and Samaria (what this person erroneously refers to as the “West Bank”).
5. Obama’s position does represent a shift in US policy. Even LBJ, who was President during the 6-Day War, said that Israel should not have to return to the so-called ’67 borders because they were indefensible.
In the future, I ask YWN not to publish pro-Obama pieces by leftist.
Correction of above post
Everyone knows that the 1967 borders do not exist: that phrase is used – incorrectly – to refer to the ceasefire lines that resulted after the 1948 War for Independence.
Thus, the correct phrase is “1949 armstice lines” or “1949 ceasefire lines.”
The word “borders” implies that there were legally binding negotiations between Israel and the surrounding Ishmaelite nations. Of course, this never happened b/c none of the surrounding Ishmaelite nations (Jordan, Egypt, Syria) would recognize Israel’s right to exist.