U.S. President Barack Obama lost ground among Jewish-American voters in last week’s presidential election, a shift seen by many as being due to his Middle East policy.
While President Obama still won the vast majority of the Jewish-American vote, the 70-percent he secured was down sharply from 2008, when he won the group by 78-percent.
The numbers, confirmed by both the Republican Jewish Coalition and the left-leaning J Street, also show Republican challenger Mitt Romney won 30-percent of the Jewish vote, an increase from the 21-percent Arizona Senator John McCain scored in 2008. That continues a steady increase from 1992, when President George H.W. Bush won only 11-percent of the Jewish vote.
Ari Fleischer, an adviser to the Republican Jewish Coalition, told the Wall Street Journal that he was encouraged by Romney’s increase among Jewish-American voters.
“This is all about inroads,” he said, adding that had Republicans made similar outreaches to other minority groups, Romney would have won.
President Obama’s policy in the Middle East, fueled mostly by a perception that he has snubbed Israel and pushed forward to create a Palestinian state, were the main factors in his decline in Jewish support.
The fact that President Obama won such an overwhelming majority of the Jewish-American vote has reverberated in Israel, where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called for early elections. Netanyahu, who during the election openly criticized the American president as being not tough enough on a potential nuclear threat from Iran, has already made overtures in an effort to patch their strained relationship.