WASHINGTON – Jewish support for US President Barack Obama has increased slightly, according to a poll released by Gallup Friday, though both Democrats and Republican seized on findings to bolster their party’s claim on Jewish voters.
Jewish voters back Obama over Romney by a 64-29 margin, up from the 61-28 margin found by an American Jewish Committee survey from March of this year.
“The trend among American Jews and Mitt Romney is only going down,” the National Jewish Democratic Council said in a release about the Gallup survey.
“These findings once again give the lie to the myth that the Jewish vote is shifting rightward.”
The NJDC pushed back on the Gallup assessment that Jewish support for Obama was lower in 2008 than it had been in 2012, when Gallup research showed that 74 percent of Jews backed the candidate. The NJDC argued that the comparison “is like comparing apples and lightbulbs” because the 2008 number was from the fall, when Jews were watching the race more closely and preparing to vote.
The Republican Jewish Coalition, on the other hand, seized on the poll to make the case that it shows the GOP with its highest level of Jewish support since 1988.
“Support for Romney is at 29%, the highest level of Jewish support for a Republican presidential candidate in 24 years,” according to the RJC.
The RJC also labeled the 64% showing for Obama “a disaster” in the making for him and the party. Should that be the number of Jews voting for him in November, it would be the lowest number since that percentage backed Michael Dukakis over George H.W. Bush in the 1988 race.
Gallup noted that while Jews are only 2% of the general population, Jews tend to vote in higher numbers than other groups – 83% of Jewish registered voters said they definitely would vote in comparison to 78% of the general public.
Though the organization pointed out that Jewish voters “typically are not critical groups in deciding presidential election outcomes,” given the tight race between Romney and Obama to date, “every additional bit of support they can muster among [Jewish voters] could be valuable to their winning the election.”
The Gallup survey of 576 registered Jewish voters between April 11 and June 5 with a +/- 5% margin of error.
The day before the Gallup survey was released, Ron Paul’s son Rand, a Kentucky senator, endorsed Romney.
His endorsement came after Paul conceded on Wednesday that he would not win enough delegates to take the Republican nomination. However, he stressed the important presence his supporters would have at the Republican National Convention.
“When it is all said and done, we will likely have as many as 500 supporters as delegates on the Convention floor. That is just over 20%!” Paul said in a statement to his backers released by the campaign. “While this total is not enough to win the nomination, it puts us in a tremendous position to grow our movement and shape the future of the GOP!” The next day Rand Paul, who has been a top surrogate for his father and is expected to pick up the family political mantle, told Sean Hannity of Fox News that he would be supporting Romney.
In his endorsement, he mentioned the similarities between Romney and himself both having large families. And he said the two of them had a 30- minute meeting in which they covered a wide range of issues.
“I think we have a lot in common, a lot of things that we will be able to fight together on,” said Rand Paul, who like his father has views on Israel considered controversial to many supporters of the Jewish state.
Romney welcomed the endorsement in a campaign statement.
“Senator Paul has been a leading voice in the effort to scale back the size and reach of government and promote liberty,” Romney said. “As president, I will reform the federal government and make it smaller, simpler and smarter.”
“I am honored to have earned the endorsement of Rand Paul,” he added. “I am grateful for Senator Paul’s support and look forward to working with him to get America back on the right track.”