While it is a fact that no modern Republican presidential candidate has yet matched the 39 per cent of the Jewish vote that Ronald Reagan received in 1980, there has, however, been an unmistakable trend in Jewish voting, with Republicans gaining a larger share of the Jewish vote in presidential elections and doing well in the community in other races.
Looking at presidential elections, the percentage of the Jewish vote that went to Republicans was: 1992 - 11 per cent; 1996 - 16 per cent; 2000 - 19 per cent; and 2004 – 24 per cent. John McCain got 22 per cent of the Jewish vote in 2008 but that drop-off was small considering the political tsunami that the GOP faced that year.
Exit polls have shown that Republicans have also proven that they can win Jewish votes at the state and local level. In 1997, Rudy Giuliani won nearly 75 per cent of the Jewish vote to become mayor of overwhelmingly Democratic New York City. Richard Riordan, running for mayor of liberal Los Angeles, took 71 per cent of the Jewish vote that year. Other examples abound.
Also encouraging is the fact that numerous post-election polls showed the generic GOP support among Jews in the 2010 mid-term elections to be 30 per cent. By comparison, going back to 1982, the historical average GOP share of the Jewish vote in mid-term elections has been 24 per cent.
Remember, too, that the Jewish community is far from monolithic. Data from exit polls from the past 20 years have shown time and again that younger Jews, Orthodox Jews, and Jewish men are more likely to vote Republican than older Jews, Reform members and women. These trends point to significant opportunities for Republicans.
Those opportunities only grow as Obama's failures pile up. Today, there is a sense of "buyer's remorse" in the Jewish community. We hear frequently from former Democrats who are horrified by Obama's policies toward Israel, alarmed at his health care policies, and dismayed at his economic policies.
Jewish voters are clustered in key electoral college states like Ohio, Florida, Nevada, Colorado and Pennsylvania, where a few points either way can tip the state. There is good reason to think that disaffection among Jewish Democrats could tip the balance in 2012 toward Republican victories at every level of government. And crucially, no GOP candidate who has received 30 per cent or more of the Jewish vote has ever lost. That is why the Democrats are working feverishly to try to end the steady erosion of Jewish support.
Matthew Brooks is Executive Director of the Republican Jewish Coalition