A compilation of many previous posts plus some new comments has been made into a long feature and published in the print edition under the headline So, How Many Jews will Vote for Mitt Romney?
The extended article ends with the following paragraph:
If Romney gets half the votes of undecided Jews, he’ll be at 34 percent. That is, if you agree with the estimated 25 percent Jewish Republican voters, and the estimated 18 percent of Jewish votes in play. If you go by the exit poll (22 percent of Jews voted McCain in 2008) and add to it the lowest estimate of votes in play (I heard 12 percent), the Romney ceiling is a much lower 34 percent, and the likely Romney achievement (if he gets half of the Jewish votes in play) will be at around 28 percent of the Jewish vote. When was the last time that any Republican nominee got 30 percent or more of the Jewish vote? Reagan in 1984. It would be no mean feat if Romney were able to get more votes than McCain, George W. Bush (twice), Dole, and George H. W. Bush, and repeat the 1984 Reagan vote.
This - as the knowledgeable Ira Forman was quick to note - might lead the readers to the wrong conclusion. Yes, if the first scenario presented above does materialize, Romney might get the highest percentage of Jewish voters since Reagan. But if the Romney nomination follows the second scenario – 28% - his numbers will definitely be lower than those of Bush 1988, and higher only from those of Bush 1992 (that’s why I wrote “twice” for GWB, but didn’t write “twice” for GHWB. And by the way, I don’t really believe Bush got 35% of the Jewish vote that year, probably closer to 30%).
A few interesting things to note as we compare Romney 2012 to Bush 1988:
1. Bush was running against a candidate who was never very popular with Jewish voters, and was the successor of a President who was (relatively speaking) quite popular among Jews – Reagan got more than 30% of the Jewish vote twice. Romney is running against a candidate who was very popular among Jewish voters, and has no predecessor - immediate or other - to give him a boost.
2. On the other hand: Bush was a moderate Republican and Romney is a moderate Republican. Less frightening for Jewish voters than other Republican options.
3. The Romney Jewish vote can easily shift with the choice of the candidates’ running mates. If it’s another Palin, some Jews will flee from Romney.
4. You might not remember this, but the polls in 1988 were highly inaccurate – or maybe it was the public that was highly confused. During the summer, Dukakis seemed for a while as the very likely winner against Bush. And only after the GOP convention did reality start to sink in. We don’t yet know the story of the 2012 election, but when it comes to the Jewish vote, there’s a big difference between 30% of Jews voting for a losing GOP candidate, and 30% of Jews voting for a winning GOP candidate.
5. With winning candidates, it does happen from time to time: GHWB, Reagan, Nixon, Eisenhower. But the last losing GOP candidate to get more than 30% of the Jewish vote was Hughes (1916). So, if Romney gets 30% or more, and Obama gets reelected, this will be the end of a very long tradition.