Democrats Have History in Jewish Vote Fight

GOP Has Financial Edge Heading Into November Election

Game On: Barack Obama, shown campaigning in Florida, has history on his side as he fights for the lion’s share of the Jewish vote in November.
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Game On: Barack Obama, shown campaigning in Florida, has history on his side as he fights for the lion’s share of the Jewish vote in November.

By Ron Kampeas (JTA)

Published September 11, 2012.
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The emphasis on the economy and social issues makes sense for the Democrats because the gaps between Jews and Republicans are wider on domestic issues – something that the phone canvassers at the Radisson Valley Forge Hotel outside of Philadelphia discovered.

David Edman, 57, a health care consultant from Wayne, Pa., said the callers he reached on Sunday tended to want to talk more about the economy.

“It’s been about 50-50,” he said in terms of callers who were receptive to the RJC message.

“I talked to two people who said health care was their most important issue. They seemed elderly and they were leaning” toward Obama, Edman said. “I ask people to keep an open mind.”

Dara Fox, 46, a homemaker from Manassas, Va., who awoke at 4:30 a.m. to ride a bus in for the day, said she got nothing but answering machines and hang-ups after an hour of calls. She said she also encountered the economic argument against voting for Romney among her liberal Jewish friends in northern Virginia – another swing state where a shift in the Jewish vote could conceivably make the difference.

“I am at a complete loss as to how liberal Jews have taken Israel and put it in a separate bubble,” she said.

Democrats, however, are not sanguine about the prospect of Jewish voters compartmentalizing any concerns they have about Israel and focusing instead on areas of domestic agreement with Obama.

Echoing a common complaint among Obama’s closest Jewish backers, Wexler, speaking Monday to the B’nai B’rith International policy conference, said the question he hears from Jewish audiences that vexes him most is the “kishkes” question: Does Obama “get” Israel in his gut?

“I get done with the litany of 30 things the president has done for Israel, and then I get asked, ‘Yeah, Wexler, I know about all that, but in his kishkes does he really feel it?’ ” Wexler recounted, his voice rising in frustration. “Short of joining the IDF itself, I’m curious as to what President Obama could do to convince some in our community.”


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