Exit Polls of the Jewish Vote

A Century of Jewish Voting in America

One silver lining in the election for the Republicans was the Jewish Vote. Romney was supported by 30% of American Jews in this election, compared to 69% for Obama. Traditionally, Jewish voters lean Democratic and the last Republican to do this well was George Herbert Walker Bush in 1988 with 35% of the vote.

Three Organizations, Three Polls, Similar Results

The Associated Press’s National Exit poll this year was based on a survey of 26,565 voters including 4,408 who voted early or absentee. Only 2% of these voters were Jewish, so the sampling error on the Jewish vote is plus or minus 4.3%.

J-Street which describes itself as “the political home for pro-Israel, pro-peace Americans fighting for the future of Israel as the democratic homeland of the Jewish people” did their own surveys.

JStreet notes that “President Obama’s 70% share of Jewish voters lines up exactly with the historic trend of support that Democratic Presidential candidates have received in the last 10 elections.”

The Republican Jewish Coalition’s survey shows similar results:

The survey, a national sample of 1000 Jewish voters, as well as a 600-person sample of Jewish voters in Ohio and a 600-person sample of Florida Jewish voters, shows Jewish support for the President dropped from 78% in 2008 to 69% last night.

The Republican share of the Jewish voted jumped nationally from 22 percent to 32 percent — an increase of almost 50 percent — and is part of a trend in which Republicans have gained market share among Jewish voters in five of the last six national elections. The ten-point gain is the largest gain since 1972.

“The RJC is encouraged by the gains we made in 2012 and by the continuing movement in the Jewish community toward the GOP. Despite the discouraging election results, we’re pleased by the gains we have made in the Jewish community,” said Matt Brooks.

It could have been worse

According to JStreet, “Tens of millions of dollars spent by Sheldon Adelson, the RJC, and others attacking President Obama on Israel backfired – 27% of Florida Jews said the ads made them more likely to vote for the President, and 63% said the attacks made no difference whatsoever.”

In fact, a survey of Jewish voters in Florida conducted by the Mellman Group around Labor Day showed Obama’s support as low as 61%.

This newly-released information shows the dramatic improvement in Obama’s Jewish vote performance in Florida between late September (then 61% for Obama, 33% for Romney) and Election Day (currently 68% for Obama in Florida, according to GBA Strategies; 66% for Obama in Florida, according to the AP exit poll). The shift during that 5-7 week period amounted to a shift in favor of the President’s Jewish vote margin of as much as 117,000 votes — a tremendous victory for NJDC’s targeted, strategic voter contact effort in Florida, and a mass rejection of the smear campaign waged by Republican Jewish groups.

In other words, Obama gained ground even as the RJC spent over eight million dollars on their “Buyers Remorse” advertising campaign.

National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC)  President and CEO David A. Harris commented:

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 effort of lies and smears against our President. We now know that over six weeks, a shift in the Jewish margin from Democrats to Republicans of up to 117,000 Jewish Floridians was stopped with the facts — plain and simple. NJDC mailed almost 400,000 pieces of fact-based mail into Florida in the final weeks of this campaign, and we called almost 70,000 Jewish households in Florida — all strategically, efficiently targeted at those persuadable Jews who could possibly fall victim to the smears circulated against the President. During that same time we ran print ads in Florida, and online banner ads, sponsored emails, and more — most only visible to residents in Florida, some only visible to carefully targeted, potentially undecided Jewish households. Through social media efforts and newly-unveiled websites and crucial web videos as well in the final days before Election Day, we powerfully targeted these undecided Florida Jews.

These were just some of the pieces in our strategic arsenal. But seeing the data today from GBA Strategies and the AP exit polls, and looking back at the data we were privy to 5-7 weeks ago from The Mellman Group, we can now say authoritatively that our work made a tremendous difference; we helped Florida’s Jews have the facts they needed to reject the lies and distortions being peddled by Republican Jews. The same can be said in Ohio, Colorado, Nevada, Virginia and Wisconsin — the other battleground states where NJDC waged a carefully-targeted campaign. Following our efficient, strategic effort, we’re thrilled with the results: an overwhelming majority of American Jews have once again supported President Obama, and they have overwhelmingly rejected the campaign of smears and lies from the right.


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