Exit polls: 78% of Jews voted for Obama

MSNBC poll: Jews 2% of vote, 70% worried about terrorism in US; record no. of Jews in Congress.

Jewish congress caucus 248 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Jewish congress caucus 248 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Jews voted for Barack Obama in overwhelming numbers, refuting speculation that Republican John McCain would peel away Jewish support due to concerns about the Democrat's stance on the Middle East and other issues. Obama picked up 78 percent of the Jewish vote in comparison to McCain's 21% haul, according to exit polls. That rate is about two points higher than what former Democratic candidate John Kerry received in 2004 and similar to the numbers Al Gore and Bill Clinton garnered in previous elections. "The numbers suggest that some of the analysis that there was skepticism [about Obama] didn't materialize on Election Day. Jews voted strongly Democratic and even more strongly than 2004," said John Green, the Pew Center's senior fellow in religion and American politics. "These numbers look like 2000, when Joe Lieberman was on the ticket" as Gore's vice presidential running mate. National Jewish Democratic Council executive director Ira Forman declared the results a major victory, saying the tally "exceeded all expectations." "This narrative that you have to worry about Barack Obama just didn't fly when they saw Barack Obama up close and they saw his relations with the Jewish community," he said, pointing to the extensive Jewish outreach campaign in states like this key swing state, where Jews make up a statistically significant slice of the electorate. He noted that it was the first time a campaign had Jewish vote coordinators in all of the key battleground states, with Florida particularly notable for the size of the outreach, surrogate events and third-party efforts. But Republican Jewish Coalition executive director Matt Brooks called the unusual outreach an indication of the concern Democrats had of Jews titling toward the GOP. He also argued that Jewish support was low, given how many other traditionally Democratic constituencies voted at even higher rates in the "Democratic tsunami" that swept the party into the White House and majorities of both branches of Congress. "There are nagging doubts in the Jewish community about Barack Obama and where he stands on important issues," he asserted. Green, though, assessed that such concerns were outweighed by those on the Republican ticket, namely regarding the vice presidential nominee. "There was contrary tendency," he said. "There were Jews who expressed skepticism about Obama but even more about Sarah Palin." Brooks rejected the assessment, but said that either way, it was good for the Jewish vote to be fought over. "When the Democrats take our community's [support] for granted and the GOP writes it off as unwinnable, that does our community a disservice," he concluded.