“U.S.-Israeli relations have been strained by the failure of the Obama administration to stress unequivocal support for our long-standing ally,’’ McDonnell said in a statement. “Thus, it's no surprise that President Obama is struggling to shore up support in the Jewish community.’’
Exit polls in 2008 suggested that Obama received 78 percent of the Jewish vote, roughly the same level of support that Bill Clinton got in 1996, Al Gore got in 2000, and John Kerry received in 2004. But the analysis of the Jewish vote by the Solomon Project, which combined national and state data, pegged Obama’s Jewish support in 2008 slightly lower, at 74 percent. That’s still a high benchmark, but a lower baseline than widely reported.
“I don't expect he will do quite as well in 2012,’’ said Democratic pollster Mark Mellman, one of three authors of the report. “He’s going to do less well in the country as a whole, so you’d expect him to do less well in the Jewish community.’’
Jewish voters remain much more Democratic than the rest of the electorate, the Solomon Project found. The analysis takes the long view, noting that between 1972 and 1988, Republican nominees attracted between 31 percent and 37 percent of the Jewish vote. Since 1992, the GOP nominee hasn’t broken 23 percent, a trend Mellman described in part as a reaction to the rise of the Religious Right's influence in the GOP.
But Romney sees an opening in the administration's failure to broker peace between the Israelis and Palestinians. He has delivered critical speeches to pro-Israel advocacy groups such as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and the Republican Jewish Coalition, and he's deployed high-profile surrogates in the Jewish community, such as John Bolton, the former U.S ambassador to the United Nations, and Dan Senor, an adviser to the Bush administration.
“Republicans say every four years that Jews are moving away from the Democratic Party, but, if anything, the trend is in the other direction,’’ Mellman said. “I don’t expect that to change significantly.’’
Obama’s success among Jewish voters in 2008 defied a whisper campaign that called him a Muslim with terrorist leanings – falsehoods that the campaign sought to dispel with truth-squading websites that emphasized Obama's Christian background.
Obama’s reelection campaign has not launched any similar platforms this year, suggesting that it does not see the persistent rumors about his religion as a problem for now. However, the campaign website does include a section titled "President Obama's Stance on Israel: Myths vs. Facts.''