In a close election — and this one could be excruciatingly close — every vote counts. And a news Gallup Poll finds that two groups that aren’t huge parts of America’s population a leaning definitively in favor of certain candidates: Mormons favor presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney and Jewish voters favor President Barack Obama:
Mormon registered voters overwhelmingly support the candidacy of the first major-party presidential candidate of the Mormon faith, with 84% saying they would vote for Mitt Romney, compared with 13% who prefer Barack Obama. Obama, meanwhile, enjoys solid support from Jewish voters, 64% to 29%.
Gallup previously analyzed the preferences of the major religious groups in the United States. Currently, Protestants favor Romney by 52% to 40%, nonreligious voters favor Obama by 65% to 25%, and Catholics are evenly divided between the two (46% Obama, 45% Romney).
Roughly 2% of Americans identify their religious faith as Mormon, or the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Two percent also identify their religion as Jewish. Though relatively small in number, Jews and Mormons represent the next-largest religious faiths in the United States after Protestants (including those who identify simply as Christian) and Catholics.
Since Gallup began tracking 2012 presidential vote preferences in April, it has interviewed more than 500 Jewish and Mormon registered voters each. Overall, U.S. registered voters are evenly divided in their voting preferences, with 46% supporting Romney and 46% Obama.
U.S. Jews and Mormons have been strongly politically aligned with the Democratic and Republican parties, respectively, so their current candidate preferences are consistent with their usual political leanings. Gallup Daily tracking from January 2011-May 2012 shows 70% of Mormons identifying as Republicans or leaning to the Republican Party, and 19% identifying as or leaning Democratic. Meanwhile, 64% of Jews affiliate with the Democratic Party and 27% with the Republican Party.
Although Romney’s current advantage among Mormons is greater than Obama’s is among Jews, Jews may be more likely to turn out and vote than Mormons are. According to Gallup Daily tracking since mid-April, 83% of Jewish registered voters say they definitely will vote, compared with 77% of Mormon registered voters. The national average among all registered voters is 78%.
But the trending (as in other areas now) is not good for Obama: Romney is now doing bettter among Mormons and Obama is doing worse among Jews:
In 2008, Mormons preferred McCain to Obama by 75% to 19%. Romney’s current 84% share of the Mormon vote is thus nine points better than McCain’s, and five points better than the average shift from McCain to Romney among all registered voters.
Among Jews, Obama’s current 64% to 29% advantage compares with a 74% to 23% advantage before the election in 2008. Thus, he is running 10 points lower among Jewish registered voters than in 2008, which is five points worse than his decline among all registered voters compared with 2008.
Jewish and Mormon voters show decided preferences for Obama and Romney, respectively, consistent with their usual political leanings. Romney’s historic candidacy as the first Mormon presidential candidate has him currently running a bit more strongly among that religious group than McCain did as the Republican candidate in 2008, and above what would be expected, given the overall increase in support for the GOP presidential candidate compared with 2008.
Obama remains the favorite of Jewish voters but appears to be running a bit weaker among them than he did in 2008, given the 10-point drop in Jewish support for him compared with a five-point drop among all voters.
Given the relatively small size of each group, and their strong Democratic and Republican leanings, Jewish and Mormon voters typically are not critical groups in deciding presidential election outcomes. However, with Romney and Obama so closely matched thus far, every additional bit of support they can muster among these groups could be valuable to their winning the election.
In so many areas now, Romney seems to be on the ascent and Obama on the descent.
These kinds of ups and downs are not unusual in campaigns. But Obama is now either in a slump or on a downward spiral.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.