Archive for September 24th, 2008

The Jewish Gender Gap

Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

Jewish women are stronger supporters of Barack Obama than Jewish men.

That’s what pollster Anna Greenberg, the senior vp of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, said at the National Jewish Democratic Council’s policy conference this morning.

With all the polling I’ve seen about Barack Obama and the Jewish community, this was something new, and it suggests something very important about how we win this election.

We’ve known for some time that Barack Obama’s support in the Jewish community is between 62 and 65 percent — much lower than Kerry, Gore, and Clinton, who got betwen 75 and 80 percent of the Jewish vote. And we’ve known that much of Obama’s problems stem from his less-than-stellar support among older Jews.

But no one had looked closely at the Jewish gender gap to see if that also played a role.

Greenberg said Jewish men currently support Obama by 52 percent to 44 percent. Jewish women support Obama 67 percent to 28 percent. That’s a significant 15-point gap.

And it’s even more pronounced among younger Jewish women — 72 percent of whom support Obama.

The reasons for it, Greenberg said, are that Jewish women tend to feel more strongly about reproductive rights; they tend to be more alarmed about Sarah Palin; and they have been alienated by McCain’s strong tilt toward Evangelical Christians.

“Jewish women are such strong supporters of Barack Obama,” Greenberg said.

She added that in addition to younger Jews talking to older Jews about Barack Obama, Jewish women can play a key role in this election by talking to Jewish men about why they support Obama-Biden.

“It’s pivotal that younger Jewish women, 72 percent of whom are for Barack Obama, go out and talk to people about Obama,” she said.

What it Will Mean For You

Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

Amy Walters, editor-in-chief of The Hotline, says something about Barack Obama is still holding voters back.

“It’s quite remarkable,” she told more than 200 people at the National Jewish Democratic Council Policy Conference last night: When you consider all Obama has spent, many “voters feel they don’t know anything about him.”

Walters, part of a panel of political experts that handicapped the race, said one of Obama’s biggest concerns is that he is underperforming among single white women. Kerry enjoyed the support of 55 percent of that demographic; Gore had 57 percent, a Democratic peak. Obama is currently stuck at 43 percent.

“He’s yet to give voters — you’re now just starting to see some language [from Obama] to say to them: What am I going to do that’s going to matter to you, directly, in your daily lives,” she explained. “This is what I will do for you.”

I sent a question up to the dais: What language, exactly, should Obama be using?

Walters said he should be talking more about things like minimum wage and pay equity.

“It’s hard for a lot of voters to connect to Barack Obama due to his style — he’s not Bill Clinton ‘I Feel Your Pain,'” she said. “He has an aloufness that comes across.”

She gave a great example. In response to the latest fiscal crisis, McCain came out shooting from the hip: Wall St. is broken. Washington DC has been asleep at the wheel. Don’t worry — we’re on the way. We’ll fix it. Visceral. Declarative. Personal. I will help you.

Obama, on the other hand, said essentially: It’s a complicated problem we have on our hands. It will require complicated solutions. We don’t want to make snap judgments.

“It was not as compelling,” Walters said. “It was not: When I’m president, this is what it will mean for you.”

Another panelist, William Galston, a senior fellow at Brookings, argued that the upcoming debates will be crucial for Obama. He compared the mood to 1980, when there was a strong anti-Carter, anti-incumbent sentiment. Going into the debates, though, the race was still very close. It was through the debates that Reagan eased voter’s concerns about the idea of a Reagan presidency. He made them comfortable, and won in a landslide.

Walter said that in the debates, Obama needs to get away from the didactic, professorial approach. It’s about him “finding anyway he can to say: Here’s what I’m going to do. Here’s what it means to you.”

The sense seemed to be that despite all the millions already spent on this election, now is Obama’s moment. This is his turn for home.

“We’re not normal,” Walter said, looking out across the Hilton ballroom. “Normal people don’t talk about politics at this level of detail. Most folks are still not plugged into this race yet.”

“We’re like: My God, we’ve only got 40 days left! And they’re like: We’ve got forty days. I’ve still got the debates to follow. We’ve got the World Series coming up.”

Which is to say, stay tuned.