New York election: What does defeat mean for Obama?

Orthodox Jews cross the Brooklyn Bridge Image copyright bbc
Image caption Objections to Obama's Israel policy may have influenced the election in an area with a large Jewish vote

Maybe we have a new political rule: never photograph yourself in underpants lest it leads to the questioning of your leaders' foreign policy. Maybe not.

Still, the Democrats got a thumping in the New York by-election in the seat left vacant when Congressman Anthony Weiner resigned after THAT photo went viral.

Everyone agrees it was an awful result for the party. But what does it mean?

There are two favourite theories.

In a traditional Democratic area it was about President Obama's performance.

In a very Jewish area it was about President Obama's policy towards Israel.

I haven't covered the campaign so I am merely raising the question and offering up the theories of others.

Perception counts

Politico's thrust is that it was general anger with Mr Obama from his own supporters. It quotes a senior Democratic aide on Capitol Hill: "The approval ratings for the guy at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue cratered."

The author adds that in a blue-collar district the support of union members has evaporated, creating a dangerous precedent for next year. Certainly, Mr Obama has been assiduous in courting labour in the last few weeks.

Republicans, too, favour the interpretation that it was a referendum on Barack Obama's general policies.

But others note that his policy on Israel could be to blame. Drudge does it rather bluntly with the headline "Revenge of the Jews".

The Washington Post has some supporting evidence: "The district's large contingent of Orthodox Jews opposes his proposal for Palestinian statehood drawn around 1967 borders."

Israel's most important newspaper says President Obama got a thumping and notes with some sophistication: "Whether or not it was, in fact, the voters' antipathy to President Barack Obama's Israel policies ... is almost irrelevant now.

"In politics it is the perception that counts, and [it] ..will be portrayed, as the outspoken former Mayor Ed Koch put it, as a 'message to President Obama that he cannot throw Israel under a bus with impunity'.

"Of course, it is most likely that the vote was a result of both the specific and the general. Neither are good news for Obama."

Did you vote in this election? How? Why? Let me know.