The stereotype of the Jewish voter as a confirmed Democrat from cradle to grave is starting to crack.
A study this month by the respected Pew Research Centre, comparing polls from 2008 and 2011, shows a significant increase in Jewish support for Republicans over that period. Pew found that while Jews favoured Democrats by a 52-point margin in 2008, the Democrats now have a much smaller 36-point margin among Jewish voters. In fact, more Jews than ever are identifying as Republicans, not just "leaning Republican", according to the Pew report.
This news comes as no great surprise to Jewish Republicans, since it confirms a trend we have been watching for some time. It reinforces two data points from last year that indicated a strengthening of Jewish support for Republicans.
In September, there was a special election to fill the congressional seat in New York's ninth district, after a scandal forced the resignation of Rep Anthony Weiner. New York's ninth is overwhelmingly Democratic in voter registration and at least one-third Jewish. Despite this, Republican Bob Turner won, becoming the first Republican to represent NY-9 since 1920.
That race was considered a bellwether for 2012, offering Republicans a glimpse of the effects a sour economy and tensions between the Obama administration and Israel were having on Jewish voters.
Jewish Republicans were further encouraged by a national poll, conducted by the American Jewish Committee last September, which showed that President Obama's approval rating among Jewish voters had dipped significantly.
In that poll, President Obama's overall job rating was 48 per cent disapproval to 45 per cent approval. (In 2010 those numbers were 44 per cent disapproval and 51 per cent approval.) On the economy, Jews disapproved of Obama's performance by a wide margin, 60 per cent to 37 per cent. On the US-Israel relationship, the majority of Jews disapproved, 53 per cent to 40 per cent. For the first time in an AJC poll of Jewish voters, either a plurality or a majority of the respondents disapproved of the President's handling of these key issues. That puts President Obama's approval rating at near-Jimmy Carter depths among Jewish voters.