February 10, 2012 Republicans gain among Jews, but how much?
A recent Pew Survey showed that while 20% of Jews considered themselves Republicans in 2008, 29% considered themselves Republicans in 2011. This 9-point gain, though seemingly impressive, is only slightly greater than the overall Republican gain (4 points, from 39 percent to 43 percent).
The 20% of Jews who are Republicans tracked the Republican percentage of the Jewish vote pretty well; in 2008 Obama beat McCain among Jews 78-22%. So if the gains in the Pew survey hold, the Republican nominee might get 30 percent of the Jewish vote- pretty good compared to the last couple of elections, but still weaker than the elections of 1972 (35%) and 1980 (39%). The post-New Deal* highs of Republican Jewish support were attained in 1956 (when Ike got 40% of the Jewish vote) and again in 1980 (when Reagan got 39% of the Jewish vote in a three-way race).
Another way of looking at Jewish Republican votes is to ask: by what % of the vote did the Jewish GOP vote trail the national GOP vote?
If the Republican nominee gets 50 percent of the national vote and 30 percent of the Jewish vote, the gap will be -20, slightly lower than average but not the lowest.
*I found one source that asserted that the GOP share of the Jewish vote was in the mid-40s in 1916-24. But in the absence of opinion polls, I don’t know where this figure comes from.