Blog 15: Jews that Count, and the Rest of Us

Steven Windmueller, Ph. D.

Posted on May 6, 2012 / 14 Iyyar 5772

Written by Steven Windmueller, Ph. D.


In this forthcoming Presidential election, only about a fourth of American Jewish voters will truly have anything to say about the final outcome! As a result somewhat less than 1,300,000 Jews will have any meaningful impact in shaping the 2012 results. While election day is still six months away, in contemporary American politics, the contest is clearly understood to rest with a specific set of undecided voters in a select number of states.

Currently, only nine states are classified as “toss-up” contests for this year’s election; everything else, at least at the moment, is resolved, with Democrats assured of victory in states with 182 electoral votes and leading in three other states with a total of 35 electoral delegates. Republicans currently hold a solid 159 electoral slots with an additional 47 electoral votes “leaning Republican” in four contest states. By way of a reminder, a candidate for President must receive 270 electoral votes.

State: Jewish Pop. Perc. of Pop. Electoral Count
Florida 638, 635 3.4% 29
Penna. 294,925 2.3% 20
Ohio 148,380 1.3% 18
Virginia 97,290 1.2% 13
Colorado 91,070 1.8% 9
Nevada 74,400 2.8% 6
Wisconsin 28,255 .5% 10
New Hamp. 10,020 .8% 4
Iowa 6,240 .2% 6

It is conceivable that these 109 Electoral Votes will determine this fall’s Presidential contest. In light of how close many pollsters are projecting the results for this election campaign, the small yet significant Jewish voter base, especially in the swing states of Florida, Pennsylannia, and Ohio, with a combined 67 electoral votes, could be of particular importance.

The focus given to these in-play voters will be significant and may well define each campaign’s “Jewish” strategy. Particular attention ought to be given to how the SuperPacs along with the Republican Jewish Coalition and the National Jewish Democratic Council will seek to engage these target populations.

As we move through the final primaries and into the convention process, one might expect to see a continued high-energy effort to cultivate these voters.

This is one of a number of 2012 election commentaries offered by Steven Windmueller, Ph.D., who is the Rabbi Alfred Gottschalk Emeritus Professor at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Los Angeles campus.

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