Apples, Oranges And Jewish Votes

The attraction of an opinion poll, like a thing of beauty, is in the eyes of the beholder.

That's the case of the latest Gallup poll about Jewish views on the two presidential candidates.

The ultra-conservative News Max headline declared "Jewish Support for Obama Plummets," while the mainstream Forward headline on the same poll results announced "Obama Has Commanding Lead Among Jews."

Which is it?

I'll go out on a limb and say, Neither.

Republicans looking at that Gallup poll are kvelling that Barack Obama's Jewish support has fallen dramatically.  He got 78 percent of the Jewish vote in November 2008 and Gallup says if the election were held today he would get only 64 percent, a dramatic drop. 

Interesting, but misleading.  In case you missed the memo, the election is not being held today.

It's a long way from June to November, and a lot can and probably will happen between now and then.

A more accurate comparison – using Gallup polls — is late spring 2012 to the same time four years ago.  A June 2008 survey showed Obama getting only 62 percent of the Jewish vote – compare that to this month's 64 percent.  Roughly identical.

At the same time, that 2008 Gallup poll showed Republican candidate John McCain was well ahead of where Romney is today – 34 percent compared to Romney's 29 percent.

Pundits were predicting the Arizona Republican, with well-established pro-Israel credentials, might beat the unknown Illinois senator with the backing of 40 percent of more of Jewish votes, breaking Ronald Reagan's 1980 record of 39 percent. GOP hopes were buoyed by a vicious fear and smear campaign by Republican Jewish activists trying to paint Obama as an anti-Israel Muslim Manchurian candidate.  (Some things never change.)

But when all the votes were counted, Obama bested McCain 78-22 in the Jewish community.  

Where will Romney and Obama be after all the votes are counted on November 6, 2012?

No one really knows.  But of this much I am certain:  comparing June's apples to November's oranges is unreliable, inaccurate and misleading.

And as you watch the campaigns and their backers juggle their apples and oranges, bear in mind the words of Mark Twain:  Figures don't lie, but liars figure.

About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.