In the 1992 presidential election, Bush captured between 11 and 15 percent of the Jewish vote, depending on which poll you look at, down from the 27 to 35 percent he had garnered against Michael Dukakis in 1988. Even Jews who had been voting Republican on an increasingly frequent basis could not find it in themselves to pull the lever for Bush this time around.
Democrat Bill Clinton won big among Jews, receiving between 75 to 80 percent of their votes, while third-party candidate H. Ross Perot, a cantankerous rich man with a head full of fantasies, actually managed to score with nearly 10 percent of Jewish voters.
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When we set off on this little excursion into recent political history, mention was made of the one difference marring an otherwise pristine similarity between the presidential elections of 1992 and 2012, at least in terms of how the incumbent and the challenger were positioned vis-à-vis Israel.
The difference, of course, is that the incumbent in 1992 was a Republican and the incumbent in 2012 is a Democrat. So while George H.W. Bush paid a heavy price in Jewish support for following a Mideast policy designed to put some distance between the U.S. and Israel, Barack Obama likely won’t.
Because for most American Jews – famously agnostic in matters of religion but forever prostrate at the altar of secular liberalism – the letter “D” after a candidate’s name continues to mean more than the particulars of his relationship with Israel.