Did the Jewish vote win Florida?

The National Jewish Democratic Council did some number crunching, and found that the Jewish vote might have actually provided the winning margin for Barack Obama in one state — Florida.

Estimating the numbers of Jews which voted in 13 states and then allocating it to the two presidential candidates by the 78-21 percent ratio that exit polls found nationally for the Jewish vote, the NJDC found that the Jewish vote in the Sunshine State for Obama of 238,214 was more than 33,000 votes larger than his overall 205,000 vote margin of victory in the state. In other words, the Jewish vote, according to the estimate, accounted for 116.2 percent of Obama’s margin of victory in the state.

Of the 12 other states the NJDC calculated — a group of states with the largest Jewish populations plus a few other key swing states — the only other one that comes anywhere close to providing the winning margin was North Carolina, where only around 17,000 Jews voted. But because Obama’s winning margin there was about 13,000 votes, the estimated Jewish vote for Obama of more than 10,000 votes provided 73 percent of the margin. No other state was above 33 percent. The full NJDC table is here.

These numbers, though, should be accompanied by a large caution flag. Even the NJDC admits that they are merely estimates based only on the available data nationwide. So, for instance, while the organization states that past elections have shown the state-by-state Jewish vote varies little from the national tally, we don’t know if that held true in this election and Florida voters did vote similarly to the Jewish voters in the rest of the country. (In fact, we might never know, since the exit poll consortium has not released any state tallies of the Jewish vote.) In addition, the estimated number of Jewish voters in each state is not exact, but extrapolated from Jewish population estimates. For those interested in the details, Forman said the NJDC took the estimated Jewish population in a state, estimated that 80 percent of that population was of voting age, and that 80 percent of that voting age population actually voted. So while the numbers are fun to look at, they’re hardly definitive.

 

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