Sure, Barack Obama is leading in U.S. polls. But John McCain can take comfort. Americans abroad have started voting already, and the first exit poll of 2008, taken late last week, showed a sound victory for the Arizona senator.
The survey, published by Keevoon Research Strategy & Communications, measured U.S. citizens casting absentee ballots in Israel. These mostly Jewish respondents handed a big win to McCain, giving him some 76 percent of the vote. That preference stands in stark contrast to opinion stateside, where a recent Gallup poll of Jewish-Americans showed 74 percent favoring Obama. So just what do Keevoon's results portend for Nov. 4?
The survey found a high correlation between religious observance and voting patterns: 70 percent of respondents defined themselves as Orthodox Jews, while a mere 8 percent called themselves secular. Explaining why they went for McCain, 57 percent of respondents listed foreign policy as the most important concern (many also expressed concern over a nuclear Iran), with only 14 percent citing the economy—a dominant issue in the United States.
All this makes it tempting to dismiss the poll as nonrepresentative. Still, there are more than 42,000 registered U.S. voters in Israel, and close to half come from key swing states. Given the tiny margins in the last two U.S. elections, their opinions could still prove significant.