Indeed, there is some evidence that some voters in the district were voting against the Democrat for this reason. A poll conducted by Public Policy Polling in the run-up to the election found that 54 percent of all voters and 68 percent of Jewish voters were opposed to Obama’s position on Israel and 37 percent of voters and 58 percent of Jewish voters said Obama’s position on the country was “very important” in deciding their vote.
Yet there is robust evidence showing that the district’s voters are outliers among both Americans and Jewish Americans. A poll released last week by the University of Maryland’s Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) found that Americans actually overwhelmingly want the U.S. government to take an even-handed approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, while only slightly more than a quarter want policy to lean towards Israel. As Lobelog’s Jim Lobe notes, even self-identified Republicans are “equally divided” on whether the U.S. should lean towards Israel:
Six in ten (61%) said they believe the U.S. should be even-handed in its approach to the Israel-Palestinian conflict — another example of how the views of the general public are not translated into policy — while 27 percent said it should lean toward Israel and 5% toward the Palestinians. These percentages are broadly consistent with other surveys taken over the last couple of years. There are major partisan differences, however. An average of 69 percent of Democrats and independents say they prefer an even-handed approach, while Republicans are about equally divided on the question.
Additionally, polling conducted by the progressive pro-Israel group J-Street last year found that most Jewish Americans also favor a balanced approach that brings all parties together for a just resolution as well. Seventy-one percent of poll respondents supported the U.S. “exerting pressure” on both Israel and the Palestinians to reach a peace agreement, and only 29 percent opposed such pressure. Fifty-two percent said they supported the U.S. publicly disagreeing with Israel. And as an issue itself, most Jewish Americans said that Israel was not even one of the top issues they were voting about — it ranked seventh among concerns for their votes in 2010.
Given this polling data, it seems that most Americans are not ready to rush to the polls to vote against Obama and the Democrats over the issue of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. If the issue of Israel did play a major role in yesterday’s election in New York, it seems like the district was an outlier in both American public opinion and American Jewish public opinion. There is no more reason for Democrats to move to the right on this issue as a result of the NY-9 election than there would be them to become more socially conservative because a Democrat lost over a social issue in the Bible Belt.