There is an interesting survey from last week by the American Jewish Committee (click here to see it). Only 254 registered Jewish voters in Florida were interviewed, and the margin of error, accordingly, is "not negligible", at 6%. Nevertheless, it is an interesting survey for the following reasons:
In this poll, 25% say that they'd vote for Romney. With the margin of error at 6%, this means 19%-31%. Of the 5% undecideds, 3% are leaning toward Obama, and 0% toward Romney. This doesn't leave Romney with much hope of gaining more than he already has. If he gets the entire vote of Republican-leaning Floridian Jews and as many as half of the Independents, it will put him around 28%, just 2% more than the national 2008 McCain (Jewish) vote.
Two percent of the Jewish vote switching, is 2% of the 3.4% Jews (the voting percentage is double). Let's say 500,000 Jews vote (this is not an attempt to make an accurate prediction, just to give you a taste of what it all means), of which 2% is about 10,000 votes. Not much, but in Florida it is hardly inconceivable to imagine a race in which 10,000 votes make all the difference in the world.
Republicans might be building on the supposed tendency of Florida voters to factor in Israel more as they go to the polls than younger Jewish voters in other places. But consider this: according to the new survey, Florida Jews are more liberal (34% compared to 24%) and more Democratic (57% compared to 52%) than the average American Jew. The pool of voters from which to draw GOP support is small. Add in national-security voters to US-Israel voters to Iran voters, and you get 11% of the Jewish vote. Take all second-choice voters of these issues, and you get to 22%. I'm told that Romney already has most these voters in his pocket. Yes again, the pool is small.
Thirty-three percent disapprove of Obama's Israel policies. Thirty-six percent disapprove of Obama's Iran policies. Thirty-five percent say that the Republican Party is better on Israel, 31% say it is better on Iran. If Romney could get all those voters to pick him over Obama, it would be a remarkable achievement. Clearly though, there are many people in this group of unhappy voters to which Israel and Iran are not high enough on their list of priorities to convince them to vote for Romney. For him then, the challenge is not to convince the voters that he is the better candidate – it is to make them reshuffle their list of priorities. That's a much tougher thing to do.
Seventy-two percent of Florida voters are happy with the way Netanyahu is handling relations with the US. This is much higher percentage than the one Netanyahu gets in Israel.
Of course, you can read much more about the Jewish vote in general, and the Florida Jewish vote in particular, in my new book – The Jewish Vote: Obama vs. Romney / A Jewish Voter's Guide.