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November 6, 2012 12:11 pm

How Important is the Jewish Vote in Today’s Presidential Election?

avatar by Zach Pontz

Mitt Romney and President Obama at a previous debate. Photo: Screenshot.

Election day is here, and with it comes many questions. Specifically for us here at The Algemeiner, this one: How will the Jewish vote effect the outcome? At first glance it doesn’t seem like it will—Jews only make up about 2% of the U.S. population. Not a significant number. But in states that are still up for grabs like Florida and Ohio, which have significant Jewish populations, it could be a different story.

“Of the states still in play—Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania—President Obama needs 70-75% of the Jewish vote to win those three states. So far he is on track to come pretty close to that, though by no means is it certain that he will. And how those three states go, and how Jewish votes in South Florida, and outside Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, and in various suburban Ohio communities go will play a large role in determining who the next president is,” Douglas Schoen, a political analyst who has worked on the past campaigns of Ed Koch and Bill Clinton, told The Algemeiner.

“One of the unwritten stories of this election has been the critical role Jews and the Jewish vote could play in the run up to an election that could literally determine the future of the state of Israel,” he continued.

One of the major stories of this election is that it appears the Jewish voting bloc, which historically has aligned itself with the Democratic Party, is shifting allegiances somewhat. And the GOP recognizes it.

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As Matthew Brooks, Republican Jewish Coalition executive director, told The Huffington Post: “I’m confident that we will see a meaningful increase in the Jewish vote from 2008 and that we will continue our efforts at making inroads with 2012 marking five out of six national elections where Republicans have gained with Jewish voters while the Dems have lost market share.”

“A change in a traditional voting pattern of the Jewish people is going to matter a lot,” says Ken Kurson, who served as Chief Operating Officer for Rudy Giuliani’s 2008 presidential campaign.

In states like New York, of course, the shift would be negligible. “If every Jew in New York rises up and votes for Mitt Romney I don’t think it will matter. Barack Obama would still win by a significant amount,” Kurson says.

But he also makes an important point: “In a large election you can never pinpoint one reason. When Rudy won by about 50,000 votes in 1993 every single group that had roughly that amount claimed they were the reason he won. They were all right. If Obama loses it could be because he bowed to the Saudi King, or because gas prices are so high, or because somebody hasn’t had electricity in their house for the last eight days. All of these reasons would play a role.”

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