Does the Jewish Vote Matter?
President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney square off tonight for their third and final debate in the heavily Jewish city of Boca Raton, Florida. And despite significant efforts to court Jews in this important swing state, one political scientist insists that Jews are not the important voting bloc that many appear to think they are.
“The evidence isn’t there,” Professor Bryan Daves of Yeshiva University told In the Moment. “Jews have high concentrations in important states, but the Jewish vote isn’t usually significant enough to swing the election in a particular state one way or another.”
“The only state where it’s possible that Jews can have an effect on a state’s electoral college preference is Florida, and even with Florida, it’s possible that it will go one way or another without having an impact on the election. It’s possible for Obama to lose Florida and still win the national election.”
Daves also said that Jews are not likely to have an impact in Ohio, seen by many to be the key swing state in the upcoming election. “They’re a small number in terms of percentage,” he said.
Still, the perception of the Jewish vote as an important bloc remains firmly entrenched, mostly because of high voter turnout, a tradition of political activism, and high concentrations of Jews in electorally significant states like Florida, California, New York and Pennsylvania.
Daves also said that tonight’s debate—which will focus on international issues—will not be particularly important, since just 4.5 percent of American Jews see U.S.-Israel relations as the most important electoral issue, while just 1.3 percent see the Iranian nuclear program as the most important issue. “Most American Jews, like most Americans, are focused on the economy and so it’s important not to overstate the importance of these issues to American Jews,” he said.