Forward Thinking

Obama Grabs Early Lead in South Florida

By Josh Nathan-Kazis

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This doesn’t mean much yet, but very early results in Florida’s heavily Jewish Palm Beach County have President Barack Obama ahead, 66% to 34%

Only about 200,000 votes are counted in the county, less than half the number that voted there in 2008. Obama won 61% to 39% four years ago, and polls don’t close for another few minutes.

The county was the target heavy GOP efforts to win Jewish votes away from Obama, and the outcome there will be a major factor in determining the success of the efforts of groups like the Republican Jewish Coalition this year.

Florida’s statewide exit polls could also help determine whether Jews abandoned Obama today. In past years, those polls have asked the religion of voters leaving poling places. We’ll see in a few minutes, when those polls are released, whether pollsters asked the same questions this year, allowing for side-by-side comparisons.

In another key swing county, Tampa-based Hillsborough County was also reporting a larger lead for Obama compared to 2008.

Early in the night, exit polls suggest that 66% of Florida Jews voted for Obama.

These figures could change over the course of the night. They’re also likely based on a very small sample size, and likely have a very high margin of error. (We’re looking at this on the CNN site, which doesn’t seem to indicate either the sample size or the margin of error.)

In 2008, exit polls didn’t question enough Jews in Florida to break down the proportion of Florida Jewish voters who voted for Obama and McCain. Nationally, exit polls found that 78% of Jews voted for Obama in 2008.


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