Jewish Vote By The Numbers

Hispanics and African-Americans may be more numerous, but Jews historically go to the polls in disproportionately higher numbers, and that makes them an important swing vote in some key states.  The Jewish vote – because of numbers and high turnout – could be decisive in at least one key state, Florida.

"The four states with the largest Jewish populations account for 127 of the 240 Electoral

College votes needed to secure the White House," according to a Reuters story .  Those are:

* New York (almost 1.8 million Jews and 29 electoral votes) 

* California (more than 1.2 million and 55 votes)

* Florida (about 640,000 and 29 votes)

* New Jersey (more than 500,000 and 14 votes)

Israel has not been at the top of the Jewish agenda for years.  In the last presidential election it ranked eighth out of 15 issues, behind healthcare, gasoline prices, energy, taxes and education.

Over the past four decades Jews supported Democratic presidential candidates on an average of 71 percent and higher than that for Congress. The Republican high was 39 percent for Ronald Reagan in 1980 and the low was 11 percent for George H.W. Bush in 1992. In 2008 Barack Obama got 78 percent of the Jewish vote.

Florida, unlike the other three states with the largest Jewish populations, is a critical battleground state this year. Jews are 3.4 percent of the population but, with a 96 percent turnout, they represent a much larger portion of actual voters – up to 8 percent. 

Polls that suggest Obama has lost some ground among Jewish voters over the past four years could be misleading because they compare Summer 2012 numbers with November 2008 results when they should be looking at summer of four years ago, which are roughly the same today as they were then.

Nonetheless, the President's supporters are worried that the Republican effort to court Jewish voters is having an impact.  Mik Moore, spokesman for a pro-Obama Super-PAC, the Jewish Council for Eduication and Research, told Reuters:

"We know there's about 14 (percent) to 15 percent of American Jewish voters who voted for (Obama) before who right now are not ready to vote for him. "This year, young people are not as energized as they were in 2008, so the challenge … is talking to (swing voters) about the president's record and contrasting it with Romney's record."

Read the full report, "Why Obama's Jewish margin in Florida could be critical," here.

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.