Big deal or no?
Why it might be a big deal: 64 percent among Jewish voters is a very, very weak showing for a modern Democratic nominee. Compare and contrast. O took 78 percent of their vote four years ago; Kerry, Gore, and Clinton all cracked 75 percent, and Jimmy Carter raked in 71 percent when he was elected in 1976. The only nominees who failed to reach 70 percent in the past 35 years were, er, Dukakis, Mondale, and Carter in 1980, the last of whom nearly lost the Jewish vote to Reagan. In fact, The One’s take of 64 percent here matches what Dukakis got against Bush in 1988. Good omen.
Why it might not be a big deal: Just because he’s at 64 percent today doesn’t mean he’ll be at 64 on election day. Some Jewish Democrats who are disaffected now will come home, just as disaffected non-Jewish Dems will. Then again, Romney’s already at 29 percent, fully seven points more than McCain ended up banking on election day 2008. If he can simply hold onto them, Obama has a problem. Another point, though: Apart from Florida, which I think most people expect to go red this year regardless, is there any swing state where the Jewish population is large enough that a 10-point dip in Obama’s support might matter? Here’s a population breakdown. There are only two purple states (again, except for Florida) where the number of Jewish residents exceeds two percent. One is Pennsylvania, which is a decidedly bluish shade of purple, and the other is … Nevada, which is key to Rove’s “3-2-1” approach to winning the election. Hmmmmmm. Maybe this is a biggish deal after all.
And of course, Jews aren’t the only significant religious minority in Nevada. More from Gallup:
Mormons make up roughly six percent of the population in Nevada, so that spike isn’t insignificant. Nevada was always going to be a major play for Team Mitt because of the Mormon presence there plus the fact of the state’s famously high unemployment rate, but now that we know O’s considerably off the pace with Jewish voters too, it looks irresistible.