Did conservatives move the Jewish vote — and which way?


The battle over the budge continues.

Jewish support for Barack Obama dropped between 2008 and 2012 — no one doubts  this.

Comparing polls is an apples and oranges exercise, so it’s hard to say by how much. Initial exits had Obama getting 78 percent in 2008, and a subsequent analysis of the exits dropped that to 74. Exits in the last election had him scoring between 68 and 70.

Democrats say the drop was commensurate with the overall drop in an electorate entranced with the possibility of a historic presidency in 2008 and one more battered by reality in 2012.

Republicans, particularly the Republican Jewish Coalition, say an advertising/campaign blitz in Jewish communities was a contributing factor.

Two suggestive datapoints reinforce each point — and counterintuitively suggest both may be right.

At the Monkey Cage blog, Daniel Cox, the cofounder and research director of the Public Religion Research Institute, argues that the affiliation of Christian conservatives with the GOP helped keep Jews Democratic:

 Among Jewish voters, feelings about the Christian Right were strongly predictive of voting preferences, even when controlling for party identification, age, education, and other characteristics. Jewish voters who harbored very cool feelings toward the Christian Right (a rating of 1-9) had just a 9% probability of supporting the GOP candidate. Among those who rated the group neutrally or higher (50+), the average probability of supporting the Republican candidate was 69%. Not only were feelings toward the Christian Right a significant predictor of voting preference, they were among the strongest predictors. Only partisan affiliation, specifically identifying as a Democrat, had a stronger impact.

The RJC, meantime, was yesterday touting this Palm Beach Post story noting that, while Obama easily carried Palm Beach County, he bled votes especially in heavily Jewish precincts — and this was the analysis of a Democratic analyst:

[Richard] Ingman said Obama slipped in some precincts where Democrats have roughly a 3-1 registration advantage. In most of those precincts, Obama got about 75 percent of the vote. But in 45 precincts that have large senior and Jewish populations, Ingman said, Obama got around 65 percent.

So how do these analyses suggestively reinforce each other?

Were it not for the RJC-led blitz of southern Florida communities — and its focus on Obama’s tensions with Israel’s government — might not the "very cool feelings" toward the Christian right identified by Cox have driven up the Jewish vote?

Or, put another way, might fears of the conservative right have prevented an even greater erosion of Obama’s popularity among Jews?

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