Gingrich and Romney
Gingrich and RomneyIsrael news photo: Campaign Offices

The Jewish vote in Mitt Romney’s big victory in Florida’s GOP primaries Tuesday appears to have been like Newt Gingrich’s description of “Palestinians” – an invention.

Romney gained 46 percent of the total vote, against 32 percent for Gingrich, 13 percent for Rick Santorum and 7 percent for Ron Paul.

Exit polls showed that only one percent of the Republican party voters were Jewish, down from three percent in similar polls in 2008.  The Jewish population in Florida is the second largest of all states, many of them retirees. The vast majority are long-standing Democrats, as in much of the non-Orthodox American Jewish population.

Regardless of their displeasure with President Barack Obama, it is doubtful that many Jewish Democrats took the trouble to switch party affiliation officially in order to vote in the Republican primaries, and the apparent low Jewish turnout for the vote may reflect a lack of enthusiasm for the GOP candidates.

It may, however, mean that they will wait and see who the final Republican candidate is and decide on Election Day.The “Jewish vote” will be vastly more significant in the general election in November, when voters can cross party lines and vote for the candidate of their choice – Obama or the GOP victor, who for the time being appears to be Romney.

Like every other serious candidate, he has pledged support for Israel but has not defined his views as clearly or as strongly as Gingrich, who has said that the Palestinians are an “invented people,” reflecting knowledge of the Middle East and its modern history that most others do not understand or simply do not express.

Although Gingrich and Romney tried to outdo each other to win the Jewish vote in Florida, the miserable American economy is clearly the most burning issue for Americans in this election year.

President Obama won 80 percent of the Jewish vote in 2008.