The Democrats are headed into November

hemorrhaging Jewish support.

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President Obama’s approval rating among Jews has dropped by 16 percentage points during the past year, according to the latest Gallup survey.

The Gallup tracking poll results, released August 27, found that Obama’s approval rating among Jews has declined steadily from 77% during the first half of 2009, to 66% in the second half of 2009, to 61% in the first half of 2010.

Muslims continue to give President Obama the highest ratings among U.S. religious groups, at 78%, although that, too, is down from a high of 86% in early 2009. Among Mormons, approval of Obama has dropped from 43% to 24%, among Catholics from 67% to 50%, and among Protestants from 58% to 43%.

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The full results of the Gallup survey are here.

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This latest evidence of a Jewish shift away from Obama comes on the heels of a Pew Research Center survey that found 33% of American Jews now support the Republicans – an increase of 13 percentage points from the 20% who identified with the GOP just two years ago.

Even though Jews constitute only about 2% of the national population, they reside mostly in states with large numbers of electoral votes and therefore figure prominently in presidential elections. Moreover, while less than 62% of eligible voters overall cast ballots in the 2008 presidential race, a much higher proportion of eligible Jewish voters did so – 80% according to some estimates.

Even a modest shift in the Jewish vote could have a serious impact on the 2012 presidential election. In a close race, the difference between winning 20% and 33% of the Jewish vote could be enough to tip a major electoral state such as New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, or Florida – and thereby determine the election’s outcome.

In 1976, a swing of less than 12,000 votes in Ohio and Delaware would have given the election to Gerald Ford rather than Jimmy Carter. If Ford had won a substantially larger share of the Jewish vote, instead of the 20% he actually received, he might very well have been elected.

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