Pollsters love to talk about voting blocs: Catholics, evangelicals, African Americans, married women, single women, and on and on. And they especially like voting blocs that demonstrate consistent voting patterns. One of those groups is Jewish voters, who for decades have thrown their support overwhelmingly behind Democrats.

There have been lots of efforts to explain the relationship between Jews and Democrats (see Norman Podhoretz’s recent book Why Are Jews Liberals?) – but much of it comes down to the fact that party ID is a social identity. In fact, one often feels a stronger bond to their party ID than their religious or cultural identity.

But the recent incident in which Israel attacked a “humanitarian” flotilla claiming to be carrying aid to Gaza may have an impact on politics here at home.  The fact is Democrats have lost their stronghold on Jewish voters. Jewish support for Democrats began to wane in 2004, when Bush won 24 percent of the Jewish vote – up 5 points from 19 percent in 2000. Certainly this new support for Republicans by Jewish voters was directly related to President Bush’s staunch commitment to Israel and to fighting Islamic extremists around the globe who threaten the security of Americans and Jews around the world.

Leading up to the 2008 election, Jewish support for Obama, however, was modest.  According to a poll commissioned by the American Jewish Committee in September 2008, only 57 percent of the Jewish community said they were supporting Obama; 30 percent claimed to be supporting McCain.  Executive Director of the Republican Jewish Coalition told Commentary magazine “There is little question that the U.S. economic collapse in October was the main impetus for Obama receiving 78 percent of the Jewish vote.”

So the question remains: Will the current incident off the coast of Gaza affect Jewish support for Obama? 

The Obama administration has been preoccupied with raising its fist at BP and has seemed to forget that Israel is our predominant ally in the region. Instead, the president emphasized “the importance of learning all the facts and circumstances” before assigning blame. An interesting response considering the blockade exists in the first place because the Hamas government – elected by the Palestinian people – has been increasingly serving as a proxy for the Iranian government.  They continue to fire rockets on Israel, despite Israel’s decision to withdraw from Gaza.  And it’s well-known that the “humanitarian” mission was not really about the people of Gaza. As AEI’s Danielle Pletka wrote in NRO today:

The flotilla refused to dock for inspection and transportation of goods to Gaza (maybe they were worried someone would think bulletproof vests and night-vision goggles were not educational). It’s not even about getting food and medicine to the Palestinians, something Israel facilitates already.

And now it appears, the administration has quietly climbed onto the blame-Israel-first bandwagon. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley issued a statement yesterday in which he claimed, “We emphasized caution and restraint.” 

President Obama promised a lot of things in the 2008 campaign. These days I’m particularly interested in his promise to be a “firm ally” to Israel. I could do with a little less CHANGE and little more of the same – support for our democratic ally, Israel.  And, I’m not alone.