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Obama Re-elected to Second Term as President

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Gets 69% of Jewish Vote; Opinions Differ on Future U.S. Relations with Israel

In a victory that apparently elated half the country and disappointed the other half, Barack Obama pulled off a fairly decisive win over opponent Governor Mitt Romney to become re-elected for a second term as President of the United States. Based especially on his triumph in the key battleground state of Ohio, the President ended up with 303 electoral votes – he needed 270 to win – while Romney was only able to rack up 206. The popular vote was much closer – Obama earned 50% to Romney’s 48% – which indicated that the citizenry of the United States is still essentially divided over whether the country should go in a more liberal or conservative direction.

President Obama won 69 percent of the Jewish vote in the 2012 election, according to a CNN exit poll, representing a nine-point drop from the 78 percent he garnered in 2008 exit polls. Richard Baehr, chief political correspondent for the conservative American Thinker, told JNS.org, “As best I can tell, the shift in the Jewish vote didn’t shift any states.”

“If the Jewish vote was 9 percent more Republican than it was in 2008, when the estimates were 78 percent… maybe it kept the race a little bit closer there than it would have otherwise been, but it didn’t put Romney over the top,” he said. Exit polls showed 66 percent of Florida Jews voting for Obama in 2012.

Perhaps further deemphasizing the significance of the Jewish vote is the country’s increasing number of Hispanic voters, an area where some polls had Romney losing by as many as 50 percentage points, Baehr said. But ultimately, he said it is “the result that mattered, not how one group votes.”

“Even though there was a decline in the number [of Jewish votes for Obama], that it didn’t come into play into shifting any states is not a good sign for those who try to create an image that it were a very important part of the overall electorate,” Baehr said.

Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) Executive Director Matt Brooks said in a statement that the exit poll on the Jewish vote showed how the Jewish community “spoke loudly and clearly regarding their concerns about the policies of the Obama administration.”

National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) President and CEO David A. Harris, speaking exclusively with JNS.org after major television networks called the race for Obama on Tuesday night, said he “and the clear majority of American Jews” are “reassured by having President Obama in office for another four years.”

The battle for the Jewish vote in the 2012 election was hotly contested in the swing states of Florida, Ohio, Nevada and Pennsylvania, with the Republican Jewish Coalition running a $5 million “Buyer’s Remorse” television advertising campaign in those states that featured Jews who supported President Barack Obama in 2008 but regretted that decision.

RJC’s advertising in swing states—which also included “Obama…Oy Vey!!” billboards in South Florida—totaled $6.5 million. But Obama, the eventual election winner, garnered 66 percent of the Jewish vote in the Sunshine State, according to exit polling.

Rabbi David Steinhardt of B’nai Torah Congregation in Boca Raton, Fla., told JNS.org election season was “a very, very challenging period of time and a very difficult campaign.” In his congregation, however, Steinhardt said “people were really respectful of each other in the conversation, surprisingly so, looking at how things began.” Steinhardt said much of the pro-Obama sentiment in his community was “quiet support,” as opposed to the more aggressive approach of Romney supporters during the race.

Rabbi Misha Zinkow of Temple Israel in Columbus, Ohio, recalled the intense campaign in his state. “From our vantage point here in Ohio, the campaign was caustic, exploited people’s worst fears, and was even insulting to the intelligence of voters,” Zinkow said. “As a result, here and across the country, [Obama] will have much healing to do.”

Zinkow is also “concerned that our country’s most vulnerable will become the victims of political extremism and ideological intransigence.”

Rabbi Mitchell Levine of Congregation Agudas Achim, also in Columbus, described “a season of robust political debate” that was “healthy for democracy.” While the election will not likely solve what Levine called an “underlying problem of political gridlock,” Jews still used the process to “remain a unified people,” he said.

In New Hampshire, Rabbi Joshua Segal of Congregation Betenu in Amherst told JNS.org it was his sense that “on social issues the Jewish community would never even consider Romney,” and that the greater Jewish community “was very pleased with Obama.”

Meanwhile, in the Jewish state, most Israeli officials congratulated President Barack Obama on his reelection Tuesday, starting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “The strategic alliance between Israel and the U.S. is stronger than ever. I will continue to work with President Obama in order to assure the interests that are vital to the security of the citizens of Israel,” Netanyahu said in a statement, despite reported tension between the two leaders over how to deal with Iran.

President Shimon Peres said, “During his four years in office, the president contributed immensely to the security of Israel.” Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren said the relationship between Obama and Netanyahu “is completely fine” and that he doesn’t “expect any change regarding Israel in Obama’s second term.”

“The two countries have intimate, strong relations, we have mutual interests—the resumption of the peace process immediately without preconditions; on the Iran issue where our differences have been reduced significantly recently, we work together to make sure Iran does not obtain nuclear weapons,” Oren said.

World Likud Chair Danny Danon, however, was not as diplomatic. “Israel must not cave in to Obama’s demands; his re-election attests to the fact that the responsibility of furthering Israel’s interests lies with Israel and Israel alone,” Danon said. “We cannot trust anyone but ourselves,” he added.

Capping a race that on a national level was largely defined by the economy but in the Jewish community turned into an extended debate over which candidate would steer the best course for the U.S.-Israel relationship, President Barack Obama defeated Republican challenger Mitt Romney to earn a second term.

National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) President and CEO David A. Harris, speaking exclusively with JNS.org after major television networks called the race for Obama on Tuesday night, said he “and the clear majority of American Jews” are “reassured by having President Obama in office for another four years.”

“The president has a stellar pro-Israel record,” Harris said. “The facts speak for themselves. Whether it’s missile defense or some of the closest [U.S.-Israel] security cooperation ever, or heralding an era of isolating Iran like never before, I see that continuing—the close cooperation between the United States and Israel continuing into and through the next four years during what’s a crucial period for Israel’s security.”

But Jonathan Tobin, senior online editor of Commentary magazine, told JNS.org that Obama’s win will mean “probably four years of ongoing tension with the government of Israel, which is likely to be led by the same person (Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu) with whom Obama is engaged in a long-term feud”—including tension on the Iranian nuclear issue, especially if Obama approves a deal brokered by senior advisor Valerie Jarrett, who according to a Yedioth Ahronoth report Monday is leading secret talks with the Islamic Republic.

However, Tobin acknowledged that the “infrastructure of the [U.S.-Israel] alliance isn’t going anywhere.”

President Barack Obama’s election victory opens the way for renewed efforts to revive moribund peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, Middle East envoy Tony Blair said on Wednesday.

Speaking hours after Obama won a second term in office, the former British prime minister told Reuters he did not believe the United States had lost interest in the decades-old conflict, adding that he hoped to see a fresh initiative soon.

“I think President Obama’s re-election gives us the chance to go back into it with a renewed sense of momentum and a plan to move it forward. I think, expect, hope that this is what will happen,” he said, speaking from his Jerusalem offices.

Regarding the economic repercussions of Obama’s electoral victory, renowned financial guru Steve Forbes predicted Wednesday that the United States is headed for a recession during the president’s second term,

“We won’t get a depression, thankfully. This is still a very resilient economy, but we will have a recession,” Forbes, chairman and editor-in-chief of Forbes Media, told Newsmax.TV in an exclusive interview.

“Raising taxes on capital, raising taxes on small businesses, which we will likely get now, particularly since the Republicans did so badly in the Senate races, that is going to pose a real burden.

“We have Europe doing the same thing: piling on new taxes, Japan piling on new taxes. The Federal Reserve is going to continue to undermine the dollar, which is going to hurt small and medium-size business. It’s going to be very tough sledding next year.”

Forbes, who twice was a candidate for the Republican Party nomination for president in 1996 and 2000 and is the son of Forbes Magazine publisher Malcolm Forbes, says he was “stunned’’ by Obama’s sweeping victory over Mitt Romney.

“I thought Romney was connecting. But I think [Republican campaign consultant] Ed Rollins put it really well thing morning. He said Romney became a credible alternative to Obama in the debates, but he didn’t establish himself as the better alternative,” Forbes said.

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