The Republican Jewish Coalition congratulated a victorious President Barack Obama on his reelection win Tuesday night.
In his first statement since the Obama victory, RJC executive director Matt Brooks said, “There are challenging times ahead for America’s leaders, who must address the stagnant economy, the need to create more jobs, and the threat of a nuclear Iran. All of us must come together to craft real solutions to the very serious problems our country faces today.”
While Democrats gloated on Tuesday night at exit polls showing a 69%-30% win among Jews for Obama (1% went to a third candidate), the RJC said “early exit-poll results indicate a significant erosion of support for the president, from 78 percent of the Jewish vote in 2008 to 69 percent in 2012. The trend in the Jewish community is unmistakable. In five of the last six national elections, Republicans have increased their support among Jewish voters and they continue to make inroads in the Jewish community.”
The organization added: “One clear take-away from the outcome of this election is that the Jewish community spoke loudly and clearly regarding their concerns about the policies of the Obama administration.”
Democrats contest the assertion that Obama won 78% of the Jewish vote in 2008, and Prof. Ira Sheskin, a demographer and researcher of Jewish political affiliation at the University of Miami, told The Times of Israel the figure cited by Democrats, 74%, is likely the more accurate one.
The difference is significant. The nine-point gap claimed by Republicans is larger than the six-point margin of error in the 2008 figures. (No margin of error was immediately available from the 2012 exit polls.) The five-point gap Democrats are claiming is within the margin.
Figures from the Solomon Project, the same organization that Democrats rely on for the 74% figure, confirm Republican assertions that the Republican share of the Jewish vote has been growing, from a low of 15% voting for George H.W. Bush and against Bill Clinton in 1992 and 1996, to 17% and 21% choosing Bush in 2000 and 2004, respectively. The trend continued in 2008, with 23% voting for McCain against Obama. If the 30% exit-poll figure is confirmed by other polling in 2012, it may be a sign that the trend of Jews choosing Republican candidates is accelerating.
However, it is important to note that 1992 marked a dramatic low point in Jewish support for Republican candidates. In 1988, one presidential election before the dismal 15% showing in 1992, fully 32% of Jewish voters picked George H.W. Bush. Earlier, Ronald Reagan enjoyed 37% and 31% support in 1980 and 1984 respectively.
On Wednesday afternoon New York time, both sides are expected to release more detailed exit polls. The left-wing J Street will release polls to the media at 1 p.m., and the Republican Jewish Coalition its poll one hour later.