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Why Republican efforts to corral Jewish vote may come up short

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A Gallup poll released in September showed a decline in Jewish support for Obama to 54 percent, but that was not disproportionate to his overall decline among the American electorate, with support then at 41 percent. That 13-point gap between the Jewish vote and the overall vote is typical of the gap seen throughout Obama’s presidency.

Another poll released in September, by the American Jewish Committee, found Jewish opinion on Obama split nearly evenly, with 45 percent approval and 48 percent disapproval. But in head-to-head matchups against the Republican candidates, Obama came out on top. The candidate who fared the best was Romney, who got 32 percent of the Jewish vote to Obama’s 50 percent.

To be sure, Obama’s standing with Jewish voters bears watching. The financial largesse of Jewish donors is disproportionate to the size of the community, at just 2 percent of the US population.

In August, Obama brought in Jewish Democratic activist Ira Forman to reach out to the Jewish community. Obama faced outrage last May over a speech he gave proposing that new Israeli-Palestinian negotiations use the 1967 borders as their starting point. And in September, the upset victory of a Republican in a heavily Jewish congressional district in New York – the seat formerly held by Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner – was seen as a rebuke of Obama.

But the fact that Obama’s declining support among Jewish voters tracks his overall decline in job approval “calls into question attempts to link a decline in Obama’s approval among Jews to his statements or policies on matters important to Jewish policymakers and lobbyists,” Gallup editor in chief Frank Newport wrote in September.

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