The latest Gallup Survey has bad tidings for Obama’s re-election campaign with a long way to go, he has lost 10-15% of his Jewish support. While he still enjoys support of the vast majority of voters (and will most certainly earn the majority of the Jewish vote) losing a large chunk of the Jewish voters may hurt him in key states, but only if other voting blocs show the same kind of movement.
According to Gallup Obama has the support of 64% of the Jewish vote as of today, down from 74% just before the 2008 election and the actual figure of 78%, dropping deeper than the general population.
The Jewish population is a very small part of the electorate (around 2% of the population). Mitigating its small size is that Jews tend to turn out for elections in large and the population is concentrated in some key states. This means they may have they may have a bigger influence in some key battleground states, but only in a close election were other voting blocs are switching from Obama also.
Allow me to explain what I mean. The states with the largest Jewish populations are:
|2008 Result||2012 Electoral
|New Jersey||504,450||Obama +16||14|
All but Texas went to Obama in 2008. Texas will most probably stay in the red column in 2012 as NY, California, Illinois, Massachusetts and Maryland will most probably stay in the blue. But in the key battleground states of Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio and even possibly in New Jersey, the Jewish vote may play an important role. Not only because more will vote for the GOP candidate, but because many will stay home, not wanting to vote for the anti-Israel Obama and not feeling comfortable to switch allegiance even for one election.
Even with the possible switch of some of the Jewish vote, even with its concentration in key states, it will take more than the switching of some of the Jewish vote to turn those blue states into red. One place to look is the Catholic population.
In 2008 Obama earned 54% of the Catholic vote (vs 45% for McCain). The Catholic vote is not tied to one party having voted GOP in the past ten elections. Allow me to suggest that Obama will lose the Catholic vote by a big margin in 2012 because of the insurance for contraception, sterilization and day after abortion poll controversy. Not necessarily because these Catholic voters object to the procedures being forced by the administration, but they object to their Church organization being forced to support them.
The last poll of Catholics taken by Gallup taken two months ago reported the nine-point 2008 margin down to six percent. Allow me to suggest that as the vote gets closer, bishops will hit on this issue even harder from the pulpit and more Catholics will switch sides.
Those same four states described above happen to have large Catholic as well as Jewish votes.
|State||Estimated Jewish Population||Estimated Catholic Population||Total||Votes Obama won
|% needed to shift||2012 Electoral
Florida seems ripe; Ohio, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania seem a stretch. Obviously there are other groups that will make the switch. For example Ohio and Penn. are coal-mining states and this administration has not been coal-friendly.
In summary, 2012 will see a shift in Jewish voting patterns, but not a total abandonment (and not only because of Israel). I believe as Jewish voters get more comfortable with Mitt Romney they will continue to abandon the Obama camp, however the President will still win the majority of the Jewish vote, and that percentage will still be higher than 60% not including those who stay home.
Certain key states with large Jewish populations may swing over because of the Jewish vote, but only in a very close election where other voting blocs such as Catholics and or Coal miners also abandon Obama. No one is predicting a runaway win for the candidate of either party. So in an election where things are that close–yes, the loss of some of the Jewish vote will hurt Obama, but only if combined with many more factors.