Clinton wins Pennsylvania Jewish vote with surprising ease
More than 60% of Jews in Pennsylvania Primary voted for Hillary, less than 40% voted for Obama. And this is not the only reason for which Clinton can say she handily won the Jewish vote.
First, the numbers:
As you can see here, the Jews of Pennsylvania voted in great numbers (8% of the vote, much more than their share in the PA population), and 62% voted for Clinton, while Obama got 38% of their votes.
Most media outlets missed this great "Jewish victory" for Clinton, as they were relying on earlier numbers, claiming that the margin was 10% - 55% for Clinton and 45% for Obama. While this is a significant margin, it is not very impressive as it is similar to the general margin in this state (45% for Obama, 55% for Clinton).
However, and as was the case a couple of weeks ago in California, earlier results did not reflect the final numbers.
Here is what I wrote at the time:
Exit polls are a problematic source when it comes to the Jewish vote. The sample is always small, even in states like New York where 16% of the vote was Jewish. The margin of error is significant, and there is plenty of opportunity for correction as the actual results are analyzed and the polls are weighed to the official count of votes. That's why it is even more important to recheck these exit polls.
I checked. In California we thought that Clinton won, but she actually lost. In Pennsylvania we thought she won by a smaller margin, but the truth is that she won decisively.
But this is not the end of the story, as Clinton's victory is even more significant. Look at Montgomery County, where many suburban Jews live and where the Jewish vote was the most significant. In this affluent community, Obama did pretty well, losing by only 2 points to Clinton. This means that Jews did not just vote for Clinton more than the average Pennsylvanian did; they voted for her in even greater relative margin of difference when one considers the community from which they come.
On the other hand: Jewish voters, overwhelmingly white, voted for Clinton slightly less than other whites (whites: Clinton 63%, Obama 37%).
A lot of talk was dedicated to the question of whether Obama has a 'Jewish problem.' As I reported in the past, Obama won the Jewish vote in Massachusetts, Connecticut and California.
Then came the Gallup poll, claiming that Obama and Clinton are supported by an almost-equal number of Jewish voters. Reading it I reminded my readers that my assumption was always, and still is, that Obama does have many Jewish followers. But I also added "One last word of caution:"
We do not know yet the extent to which the Wright affair will influence the Jewish vote (though the Gallup poll can give some indication that it did not hurt Obama so far). I believe that John McCain has a better chance of gaining more Jewish voters than his two Republican predecessors (Bush & Bush) did, and that future surprises might change the tendencies of some of the Jewish voters.
Can Pennsylvania be considered a sign that this caution was necessary?
Last time we had the numbers of the Jewish vote in Maryland. Interestingly enough, Clinton won this state - in terms of the Jewish vote - with numbers very similar to the result in Pennsylvania. When I reported these numbers I offered this explanation:
In Super Tuesday, we saw three types of Jewish-voter states: those who voted overwhelmingly for Clinton, like in New York; those who went with Obama, like Connecticut; and others that are more competitive, like Massachusetts (Obama), California (Obama), or Arizona (Clinton). Our explanation was this: "Clinton won the Jewish vote handily in her backyard (New York and New Jersey), but did not have such luck in other places. She won some, and lost some, but the margin in all places but those two backyard states was not significant".
Can Pennsylvania (especially Philadelphia), caught between NJ (backyard), and Maryland (not backyard) be considered a backyard state? If the answer is yes, the Wright affair might have nothing to do with Clinton's victory.