The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Democratic Jewish voters inch toward the GOP

Vice President Biden speaks during the annual lighting of the National Hanukkah Menorah on the Ellipse in Washington On Dec. 16. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

A new Gallup poll shows a continuing shift in the political affiliation among American Jews, with more and more of this voting bloc leaning Republican.

While they leaned Democratic 71-22 in 2008, they now favor the blue team 61-29 after a slow but significant shift.

Yes, the movement toward Republicans mirrors an overall national shift away from Democrats, but among American Jews it's more pronounced. Democrats have seen a 10-point drop-off among Jews since 2008, and nationally a seven-point drop in Democratic party identification, according to Gallup.

And it's not just party ID. At the presidential level, there has been an uptick in support for Republican candidates among American Jews, who have made up anywhere from 2 to 4 percent of the American electorate going back to 2000.

In 2000, George W. Bush got 19 percent of the Jewish vote. In 2012, Mitt Romney got 30 percent.

President Obama's difficult relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not helped Democrats. A recent poll by a left-leaning group showed that among Jewish voters, Netanyahu has a higher favorability rating than Obama — 53 percent to 48 percent. This summer, tensions ran especially high as the Israeli government launched a military action in Gaza, with the Obama administration calling for a series of humanitarian cease-fires.

At the electoral level, in 2011, Republican businessman Bob Turner beat a prominent Democrat in the race to fill Anthony Weiner's congressional seat in New York City, in one of the most heavily Jewish districts in the country. He focused heavily on Israel, gaining the backing of former New York City mayor Ed Koch, who urged voters to send a message to Obama.