In news that will gladden the hearts of Jewish Republicans, the Pew Research Center came out with data today that shows a slide by members of the tribe toward the GOP.
“In 2008, 72% of Jews identified themselves as Democrats or said they leaned toward the Democratic Party, and Democrats held a 52-point advantage among this group. In 2011, the Democratic advantage among Jews has shrunk to 36 points, with 29% of the Jewish population aligning with the GOP. While the majority of Jews are still Democrats or lean toward the Democratic Party, Democrats’ dominance among this group has weakened since the last presidential election. In fact, Jews are the only religious group analyzed in which the percentage who identify themselves as Republican (as opposed to leaning toward the GOP) has risen significantly.”
If you scrutinize the above graph, howver, you'll see that the margin of Dem-leaning Jews to Republican-leaning Jews grew from 2010 to 2011, from a 32-point difference to a 36-point difference.
Good news for President Barack Obama? Not necessarily.
“It’s within the margin of error,” says University of Virginia political guru Larry Sabato. “It’s not significant.”
Indeed, the margin for a sample of 645 Jewish voters in 2008 was five percent and the margin for 330 Jewish voters interviewed in 2011 was 6.5 percent.
However, what is significant in the numbers is that, despite the heated campaign rhetoric directed against the president for the bulk of last year, the slide toward leaning Republican didn’t increase, certainly not to the extent of the first two years of the Obama administration, when Jewish Democrats and Jews leaning Democrat plummeted nine points from 72 percent to 63 percent, a figure beyond the margin of error.
Of course, party affiliation really has no bearing on how people will vote in the general election.
Sabato says he’s willing to bet that the percentage of Jewish Americans voting for Obama “will be very close to the 2008, and Jews will be overwhelmingly [voting] Democratic. We live in a very polarized era and people do not change their party affiliation or candidate preferences very easily.”