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May 22, 2008

Obama and the condo wars

Right after the 2004 presidential election, I wrote a piece that discussed the fact that a surprising number of Jews seemed to have voted for Bush but were keeping quiet about it. It was called "The hidden Jewish vote."

An article in the New York Times today (hat tip: Son of the Right Hand) makes me wonder whether things are getting even more complicated this year. Quoting a number of older Jewish voters in Florida, the article talks about the problems Obama may have with these people, especially because of fears about his views on Israel.

Ace is really peeved about it, by the way. He makes the valid point that the article minimizes the Jewish voters' concerns about Obama's foreign policy and blames the negative views toward Obama on racism and false rumors about him. I would not deny, of course, that there are some older Jews who hold unfair negative opinions of blacks. But in fairness to them, it's based on fear and the generalization of particular experiences, rather than on conventional hatred. The man in the article whose mother was "mugged and beaten by a black assailant" is a good example. (I'm not trying to explain it away, just to explain it.)

But I look at the article through a different lens.

If you read the piece I wrote on the hidden Jewish vote, you'll see a discussion of what Judith Weiss called "the condo wars." In 2004, this same group of older Jewish voters was fighting with each other, and the hostility directed at Bush voters was boiling over. Some of these Bush voters decided to shut up about it to avoid the hostility.

What interested me about today's article is that these older Jewish Floridians were more willing to discuss in public the possibility that they would commit heresy by voting for the Republican. And one line, directed by one woman at her daughter, an Obama supporter is even more interesting:

“Aunt Claudie will kill you!” hissed her mother, Linda Poznak, 47, who said she would vote for Mr. McCain.
So now we have family pressure to vote for a Republican? Wow! It's all the more surprising, because the Democrat is (or likely will be) a black man. Bradley Effect, anyone?

I suspect, though, when all is said and done in November, most of these folks will vote for Obama. It's just too difficult for them to change.

The Times article concludes by mentioning their congressman Robert Wexler's vow to "convert voters one mah-jongg table at a time." Wexler is an Obama supporter. But the article finishes on a note that's too optimistic for me: "Still, Mr. Wexler admits, he has not yet been able to persuade his in-laws to vote for Mr. Obama."

It doesn't say they're supporting McCain, just that they're not supporting Obama.

UPDATE: Soccer Dad shares Ace's annoyance.