Selling GOP to Jewish Women

Republicans Look To Shift Debate to Economy and Israel

Women’s World: Mitt Romney is hoping to chip away at Barack Obama’s dominant support among Jewish women. The GOP hopes to shift the discussion from reproductive rights and other ‘women’s issues,’ to broader topics like the economy and Israel.
getty images
Women’s World: Mitt Romney is hoping to chip away at Barack Obama’s dominant support among Jewish women. The GOP hopes to shift the discussion from reproductive rights and other ‘women’s issues,’ to broader topics like the economy and Israel.

By Nathan Guttman

Published August 30, 2012, issue of September 07, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

The supposed Republican “war on women” has put Jewish GOP women in the party in the crossfire: They are Republicans in a Jewish community that is largely Democratic, and social moderates in an increasingly conservative GOP.

Republican leaders gathered here for their national convention believe they have found a way to win over the hearts of Jewish women. Their solution? Talk about the economy or Israel or health care. Talk about everything except women’s rights.

“I don’t think we elect the president of the United States based on these social issues,” said Arlene Herson, an enthusiastic supporter of Mitt Romney from Boca Raton, Fla. “The economy is way more important than any social issue.”

Mary Anne Carter, a Republican activist from Knoxville, Tenn., called it “condescending” to focus on social issues when Jewish women are far more deeply affected by the state of the economy and by issues of war and peace.

Jewish women may be among the most problematic constituencies for the Romney campaign. Polls show that in the general population, the gender gap works in favor of Barack Obama, who has a 10% lead over Romney among women voters overall. And Jewish women, according to data collected throughout the years, are overwhelmingly aligned with Democrats. Analysis of the 2008 elections, prepared by nonpartisan The Solomon Project, found that more than 80% of Jewish women voted for Obama, a support level higher than that of Jewish men and of women in general.

Research conducted in the past decade in several communities was consistent with this finding, showing that at least three out of four Jewish women identified with the Democratic Party.

“To a big extent, it’s because of the social issues, because of women’s rights,” said Ira Sheskin, director of the Jewish Demography Project at the University of Miami.

Recent news events have made a challenging situation harder for the GOP.

Controversial remarks made by Missouri U.S. Senate candidate Todd Akin on rape and abortion, and Republican lawmakers’ opposition to including birth control funding in health insurance, have brought women’s rights front and center in this election cycle once again.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "My dear Penelope, when you accuse Israel of committing 'genocide,' do you actually know what you are talking about?"
  • What's for #Shabbat dinner? Try Molly Yeh's coconut quinoa with dates and nuts. Recipe here:
  • Can animals suffer from PTSD?
  • Is anti-Zionism the new anti-Semitism?
  • "I thought I was the only Jew on a Harley Davidson, but I was wrong." — Gil Paul, member of the Hillel's Angels. http://jd.fo/g4cjH
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • "My husband has been offered a terrific new job in a decent-sized Midwestern city. This is mostly great, except for the fact that we will have to leave our beloved NYC, where one can feel Jewish without trying very hard. He is half-Jewish and was raised with a fair amount of Judaism and respect for our tradition though ultimately he doesn’t feel Jewish in that Larry David sort of way like I do. So, he thinks I am nuts for hesitating to move to this new essentially Jew-less city. Oh, did I mention I am pregnant? Seesaw, this concern of mine is real, right? There is something to being surrounded by Jews, no? What should we do?"
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • What Thomas Aquinas might say about #Hamas' tunnels:
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
  • "When it comes to Brenda Turtle, I ask you: What do you expect of a woman repressed all her life who suddenly finds herself free to explore? We can sit and pass judgment, especially when many of us just simply “got over” own sexual repression. But we are obliged to at least acknowledge that this problem is very, very real, and that complete gender segregation breeds sexual repression and unhealthy attitudes toward female sexuality."
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.