Download this story in Microsoft Word format here.
Their candidate lost the U.S. presidential election, but Jewish Republicans—according to their own calculations—still had something to cheer about the next day.
On Nov. 7, the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) released the results of a national exit poll of 1,000 Jewish voters, in addition to 600 Jewish voters in Florida and 600 in Ohio, that had President Barack Obama garnering 69 percent of the total Jewish vote, down nine percentage points from 2008. The RJC results mirrored the exit poll numbers for Jewish voters produced by CNN on the night of the election.
Additionally, RJC said in a press release that from 2008 to 2012, “The Republican share of the Jewish vote jumped nationally from 22 percent to 32 percent.” The 10-point increase marked the largest Republican gain among Jews since 1972, according to RJC, whose polling was conducted by Arthur J. Finkelstein & Associates.
“The results demonstrate that President Barack Obama and the Democrats saw a significant erosion of support from 2008, while Republicans continued their trend of the last several decades of making inroads in the Jewish community,” RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks said in a statement.
But Richard Baehr, chief political correspondent for the conservative American Thinker, wasn’t as optimistic as Brooks about the Jewish vote. He told JNS.org that, “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,” Baehr said the morning after the election, regarding the CNN exit polling.
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.
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 the night of the election, said he “and the clear majority of American Jews” are “reassured by having President Obama in office for another four years.”
The next day, NJDC revealed its own polling data that showed Obama gaining as many as 117,000 Jewish votes in Florida between late September and Election Day.
NJDC’s results said Obama’s Jewish support in Florida stood at 61 percent in late September and increased to 66-68 percent (68 percent according to GBA Strategies, and 66 percent according to CNN).
“Knowing what we know of the state of the Jewish vote in late September, we are tremendously proud of what NJDC and our friends were able to do to put facts into the hands of so many Jewish Florida voters to make sure they were not taken in by this multi-million dollar [Republican] effort of lies and smears against our President,” Harris said in a statement Nov. 7, referring to an RJC advertising campaign that featured video interviews with Jewish Democrats who expressed regret over voting for Obama in 2008, as well as billboards reading “Obama… Oy Vey!!”