Jewish Journal


July 8, 2012

Will the Jews vote for a losing Romney?‎



Mitt Romney (Photo: Reuters)

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.‎


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