Jewish voters stay with Clinton

WASHINGTON - 'Clinton is likely to get the highest percentage of any Jewish vote since Hubert Humphrey' in 1968 says Stuart Eizenstat, the vice-chairman of the National Jewish Democratic Council and a former aide of President Carter. In the last presidential election, 70 per cent of American Jews voted for the Democratic candidate to 30 per cent for President Bush, writes Patrick Cockburn.

Success for President Bush would be to ensure that an even higher percentage of Democrats do not vote for Bill Clinton this year. Although Jews made up only 6 per cent of the Democratic vote in 1988 the numbers in which they turn out could be crucial in states such as California and Illinois.

The ending of the dispute between Israel and the US over loan guarantees worth dollars 10bn ( pounds 5.23bn) should therefore help the administration, particularly if it is followed before the presidential election by an agreement on interim autonomy for the occupied territories. But it probably would not be enough to enable President Bush to win the same percentage of votes as four years ago.

From an early stage in his campaign Mr Clinton cultivated the Jewish vote. In June he told a meeting of Jewish political activists that he would support the loan guarantees despite Israeli settlement of the occupied territories, enhance US-Israeli strategic co-operation and pre-position US military stocks in Israel. He even promised to 'seriously review' the case of Jonathan Pollard, in jail for spying for Israel.

Given that the witholding of the loan guarantees were the stick with which President Bush forced the former Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Shamir to negotiate in Madrid, Mr Clinton's position looks like pure opportunism. Nor do his aides make much effort to deny this. One said: 'It ain't complicated. We needed Jewish votes for the primaries. We can only hope there's enough residual bitterness about Bush's hardball tactics to depress his part of the Jewish vote in November.'

This hope is likely to be fulfilled, though not necessarily for the reason given. Surveys underline the degree to which Jews are alienated from the administration on domestic issues such as abortion and the confirmation of Clarence Thomas as Supreme Court Justice. For instance, 95 per cent of Jewish Democratic primary voters said they supported Roe vs Wade, the Supreme Court ruling making abortion a right.

Yet the impact of the Jewish vote on the elections is probably more theoretical than real. In 1988 there were four states, California, Illinois, Maryland and Pennsylvania, with 109 electoral college votes, which Bush carried by less than 4 per cent and where the Jewish portion of the vote is between 4 and 8 per cent. In theory this gives Jewish voters critical influence, but in fact most of them voted Democrat anyway. Had there been a 20 per cent shift in the Jewish vote in California away from President Bush towards Governor Michael Dukakis, it would still only have totalled 1.3 per cent - not enough to get Mr Dukakis in. In New York 18 per cent of voters in the last presidential election were Jewish and Mr Dukakis won the state by 4.1 per cent, but if Mr Clinton is not certain of New York then he has lost the election anyway.

Of course there is also the Jewish lobby's ability to mobilise money and publicity. But here again the very success of President Bush in facing down the pro- Israeli lobby in Washington last September over the dollars 10bn loan guarantees showed the limitations of its influence. When the issue emerged again in January the lobby was largely silent in the face of polls which showed that President Bush's refusal to grant the loans while settlements were being built was backed by US voters by a four to one margin.

At the end of the day, the worst damage may already have been caused to President Bush's campaign by the alienation earlier in the year of right-wing opinion- formers, supporters of Likud's policies during the Reagan years, who turned on President Bush over his Middle East policy.

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer - 3-4 Month Fixed Contract - £30-£35k pro rata

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a 3-4 month pro rata fi...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £26,000+

£16000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Telesales Executive is requir...

Recruitment Genius: Area Sales Manager

£25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Freight Forward Senior Operator

£22000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This logistics firm are looking...

Day In a Page

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map