How Big Was Obama's Jewish Win?

GOP and Democrats Spar Over Dip in Support From 2008

Parsing the Vote: President Barack Obama won a slightly smaller share of the Jewish vote in 2012, compared to last time, polls suggest. But what does it all mean?
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Parsing the Vote: President Barack Obama won a slightly smaller share of the Jewish vote in 2012, compared to last time, polls suggest. But what does it all mean?

By Nathan Guttman

Published November 07, 2012, issue of November 16, 2012.
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It is a time-honored post-Election Day Jewish tradition.

As in years past, Republicans and Democrats dove into the numbers Wednesday in hopes finding data confirming that they won the elections — or at least put up a good fight.

For Republicans, any number indicating a Jewish shift toward their party is magnified; Democrats, on the other hand, seek to prove that these shift are merely marginal and the Jewish vote remains firmly in their grasp.

As the 2012 election results began to sink in, Jewish Republicans and Democrats disagreed not only about the meaning of the Jewish voting data, but also about the numbers themselves. Republicans view the outcome as a dramatic boost of 10% in Jewish support for their party, while Democrats are looking at numbers that put the shift of Jewish vote at only 4%. That, they argue, is virtually in line with the drop President Barack Obama suffered with all key Democratic constituencies compared to 2008.

And both have the numbers, piles and piles of numbers, to prove their point.

Sifting through the polling data makes clear that two key points remain undisputed. First, Jewish Americans are strongly committed to the Democratic side and stood out in their support for President Obama. The second fact is that there is a modest trend of shifting Jewish votes toward the Republican side and the 2012 elections continued this trend.

Beyond this point, everything gets hazy enough to stump the likes of Nate Silver, let alone a regular voter without a degree in statistics.

Exit polls conducted by a joint media consortium on election day found that 69% of Jewish voters sided with Obama and 30% chose Romney. 1% registered their vote as “other.” By all counts these results show a drop in Jewish support for Obama from 2008. But just how big was the drop?


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