Yesterday, all the Republican candidates for president showed up at yet another audition for Sheldon Adelson, the casino billionaire who has been teasing all of them with the promise of major financial support. The venue was the organization Republican Jewish Coalition that is sponsored by Adelson. The main (if not only) criterion used by Adelson and his wife is enthusiastic support for the most extreme right-wing expansionist and anti-Palestinian policies of Israel and almost all the candidates dutifully went down that road, trying to outdo one another in proclaiming their loyalty to his agenda, to the extent of some going overboard.
The one person who did not take that route was Donald Trump who made it a point to say that the attendees would not like him because he was not interested in their financial support and thus he could not be bought. He also elicited boos for calling for for a more even-handed US approach to the Israel-Palestine conflict and not endorsing the shifting of the American embassy from Tel Aviv to East Jerusalem. Some accused him of invoking Jewish stereotypes in his speech and that it bordered on being anti-Semitic while others have said that he was only being realistic.
Will this harm Trump’s poll numbers? Or will it increase public support for a politician who claims he cannot be bought?
One of the things I have learned from this election is that Trump’s poll numbers seem to have no relation to conventional political wisdom so predicting where it will go because of some event is hopeless. All we know is that it seems to be either stable or going up whatever happens. In one new poll his share of the Republican vote is now at 36%, a whopping 20% higher than Ted Cruz in second place, with his main support coming from those without college education.