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Published on November 3rd, 2010 | by Eli Clifton

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Emergency Committee For Israel Found Little Success in Making Israel or Iran a Top Issue

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Hawkish astroturf groups such as the Emergency Committee for Israel did their best to make the Iranian “existential threat” an issue in yesterday’s midterm elections.  ECI— which has derived plenty of negative attention in the blogosphere for its links (first mentioned here) to the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq (CLI)—did achieve moderate success last night in winning three out of the five House and Senate races where it endorsed candidates. However a closer look at a poll of Jewish voters indicates that neither Iran nor Israel played a significant role in how they voted.

A new poll commissioned by J Street—an organization which identifies as “for pro-Israel, pro peace Americans”—showed that Jews continued to vote overwhelmingly for Democratic candidates by a 66 to 31 percent margin. In a list of issues, Iran ranked as least important. Israel was identified as the most important issue by only seven-percent of respondents. Issues such as the economy, health care and government spending polled as the most important issues for Jewish voters. Thus Israel related issues remained a relatively low priority for Jewish Americans who, as illustrated in the poll, decided whom to vote for based on issues that closely mirror the entire electorate.

The poll (PDF) reads (my emphasis):

Below is a list of issues facing our country today. Please mark which TWO of these issues are the most important for you in deciding your vote for Congress in November.

Total
The economy ……………………………………………………………………… 62
Health care…………………………………………………………………………. 31
The deficit and government spending ……………………………………. 18
Social Security and Medicare ……………………………………………….. 16
Taxes…………………………………………………………………………………. 14
Terrorism and national security…………………………………………….. 13
Education…………………………………………………………………………… 12
Israel ………………………………………………………………………………….. 7
The environment………………………………………………………………….. 7
The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan…………………………………………… 6
Illegal immigration ………………………………………………………………. 6
Energy………………………………………………………………………………… 4
Iran…………………………………………………………………………………….. 0
Separation between religion and state ………………………………………-
(Other) ……………………………………………………………………………….. 2
(None of these) ……………………………………………………………………. 1
(Don’t know/refused) ……………………………………………………………. 0

In the hotly contested Pennsylvania Congressional race which pitted J Street backed Democratic candidate Joe Sestak against the ECI backed Republican candidate Pat Toomey, the results closely mirrored the national poll.

The Pennsylvania poll (PDF) asked a similar question (my emphasis again).

Now, I am going to read you a list of issues facing our country today. Please tell me which TWO of these issues were the most important for you in deciding your vote in the Senate race between Joe Sestak and Pat Toomey.

Total
The economy ……………………………………………………………………… 53
Health care…………………………………………………………………………. 35
Education…………………………………………………………………………… 15
Social Security and Medicare ……………………………………………….. 15
The deficit and government spending ……………………………………. 14
The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan………………………………………….. 11
Taxes………………………………………………………………………………….. 9
Israel ………………………………………………………………………………….. 8
The environment………………………………………………………………….. 7
Terrorism and national security……………………………………………… 7
Illegal immigration ………………………………………………………………. 2
Iran…………………………………………………………………………………….. 1
(Other) ……………………………………………………………………………….. 5
(None of these) ……………………………………………………………………. 2
(Don’t know/refused) ……………………………………………………………. 4

If the ECI’s attack ads against Sestak had any impact, it’s very difficult to tell from the polling data.  Instead, it looks like Jews, both nationally and in Pennsylvania, voted on the same issues that face all Americans. These were the issues that dominated the midterm elections last night. Despite the best efforts of the ECI to make the unconditional support of Israel and confronting Iran’s nuclear program an issue for Jewish voters, their efforts have met with remarkably little success.

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About the Author

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Eli Clifton is a reporter at the American Independent News Network. He formerly wrote on U.S. national security at ThinkProgress.org and reported on U.S. foreign policy as well as trade and finance at the Washington bureau of IPS. His articles have also appeared on Right Web and in the South China Morning Post. Eli has a B.A. in Political Science from Bates College and an MSc in International Political Economy from the London School of Economics.



One Response to Emergency Committee For Israel Found Little Success in Making Israel or Iran a Top Issue

  1. Pingback: San Francisco Sentinel » Blog Archives » YES, JEWS ARE STILL DEMOCRATS

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