In the first significant drop in Jewish support for a Democratic Party candidate in over two decades, President Barack Obama has seen a 10-point plunge in support among Jewish voters, according to the Gallup polling agency.
To put the decline in perspective, Obama is pulling in the same support among Jews as Michael Dukakis, the former Massachusetts governor who lost to George H. W. Bush in 1988.
Gallup notes the 10-point drop is “five points worse than his decline among all registered voters compared with 2008.”
Specifically, Obama currently has the support of 64 percent of Jewish registered voters, according to Gallup. This is 10 percent less than the percentage of Jews who voted for Obama in 2008. Republican Mitt Romney enjoys 29 percent support among Jews.
The move is significant because American Jews overwhelmingly been bedrock supporters of the Democratic Party for decades. Often regarded as instinctively liberal but hawks on support for Israel, Jews are a key voting bloc in Florida, one of a handful of high electoral vote “swing” states Obama must win to defeat Romney. It could also make a difference in a close race in Ohio or Pennsylvania.
The Republican Jewish Coalition notes the 29 percent of Jewish voters who support Romney, represents the “highest level of Jewish support for a Republican presidential candidate in 24 years.” RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks said that if the numbers hold in November, they would spell “a disaster” for Obama and his party.
Gallup noted that while Jews are only 2 percent of the general population, Jews tend to vote in higher numbers than other groups – 83 percent of Jewish registered voters said they definitely would vote in comparison to 78 percent of the general public.
Though the organization pointed out that Jewish voters “typically are not critical groups in deciding presidential election outcomes,” given the tight race between Romney and Obama to date, “every additional bit of support they can muster among [Jewish voters] could be valuable to their winning the election.”
The Gallup survey of 576 registered Jewish voters between April 11 and June 5 with a +/- 5% margin of error.
A recent poll by the liberal Jewish Workman’s Circle has shown even worse numbers for Obama, yet how the numbers are to interpreted depends on the interpreters. Some Democrats see the latest Gallup poll as a sign Obama’s support among Jews is now rising, reports Arutz Sheva, an Israeli national news website.
And the Gallup numbers were actually up from a 61-28 margin found by an American Jewish Committee survey from March of this year.
But conservatives, sensing a very crucial trend, strongly disagree that Jewish support for Obama has leveled off. Since 1988, all Democratic nominees have received more than 64 percent of the Jewish vote: “…Kerry, Gore, and Clinton all cracked 75 percent, and Jimmy Carter raked in 71 percent when he was elected in 1976. The only nominees who failed to reach 70 percent in the past 35 years were, er, Dukakis, Mondale, and Carter in 1980, the last of whom nearly lost the Jewish vote to Reagan,” the conservative Hot Air blog recently wrote.
There is a hint of good news for Obaam, though. Gallup polls also indicate that Obama held only 62 percent of the Jewish vote in June of 2008, before the final number rose to 74 percent in November. A similar dynamic could kick in this year, too.
In June, a poll conducted by Public Religion Research Institute a plurality – 35 percent – of Jewish voters rated themselves as “disappointed” with the Obama presidency, while 33 percent rated themselves as “satisfied.” And 46 percent of Obama’s Jewish supporters reported that, while they support him, they’re “not excited” about casting a ballot for him.