In the news

NJ Jewish Standard: It's Ari's Party

Friday, October 11, 2013
By: Larry Yudelson, New Jersey Jewish Standard

You don’t get much more Jewish than the name “Ari.”

And you don’t get much more Republican than serving as White House press secretary for President George W. Bush.

Which makes Ari Fleischer a natural public face of the Republican Jewish Coalition.

Fleischer was in Teaneck last week, as a four-city “Blueprint for Victory” barnstorming tour featuring him and RJC director Matthew Brooks touched down at Congregation Bnai Yeshurun.

The session was moderated by the synagogue’s Rabbi Steven Pruzansky, an enthusiastic partisan.

“Sometimes I watch Republican spokesmen and I wonder why the response is not more forceful,” Pruzansky said at one point to Fleischer.

“Rabbi, you’d make a great press secretary,” Fleischer replied.

Jewish Republicans are rare and lonely, Pruzansky admitted, noting that the recent Pew Survey found 70 percent of American Jews identify as Democrats or leaning that way, versus 22 percent as Republican. While Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal often is seen as having created the Jewish Democratic vote, Pruzansky said it went back further — it was Warren Harding, elected in 1920, who was the last Republican to receive a majority of the Jewish vote. “Maybe because his middle name was Gamliel,” Pruzansky joked — though Ronald Reagan came close in 1980.

But in the Orthodox community, the political leanings go the other way. The Pew Survey reported that among the Orthodox, 57 percent are or lean Republican, and only 36 percent are Democratic or lean that way.

Looking back at the last election, Brooks said that for the Republican Jewish Coalition, “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

Worst, because “the Republicans were blown out of the water across the board” with the defeat of Mitt Romney.

Best, because “it was our greatest year ever. We had the most sophisticated, largest, most expensive outreach in the Jewish community. At a time when Republicans were being wiped out across all constituent groups, we actually increased by 50 percent. John McCain got 22 percent of the Jewish vote in 2008; Romney got 32 percent in 2012,” Brooks said.

“We’ve gained market share in the Jewish community in five of the last six national elections. We’ve gone from 11 percent in 1992” when Bill Clinton defeated George H. W. Bush. “This trajectory underscores that we’re having an impact in the Jewish community.”

But if Republicans did better among the Jews, why did they not succeed in the general population?

“I’m the child of an immigrant,” Fleischer said. “My mother got out from Hungary in 1939. Romney sent a signal that we don’t want that here. That’s in contrast to my old boss who said, ‘Family values don’t stop at the Rio Grande.’ When Bush said that, Hispanics would listen to the next sentence. Republicans won’t get the White House again unless we’re able to get a sizable chunk of Hispanic votes. Bush got 44 percent of the Hispanic vote. Romney got 27 percent.”

Fleischer, who was among the authors of a 100-page Republican National Committee post mortem released in the spring, said Romney was a flawed candidate.

“Too many people looked at that person and did not feel he represented them enough,” he said. “Did the candidate care about me, or just about the wealthy? That’s a question the Republicans have to do a better job of addressing.”

Fleischer’s report was criticized quickly by Rush Limbaugh and other leaders of the party’s right wing. Some of the internal party tensions were quietly audible in the interplay between Fleischer and Pruzansky, who at one point complained about the general “demonization” of the Tea Party movement.
“It’s very hard to compete with the party of the free stuff,” Pruzansky asked. “How do you compete against the free stuff?”

Fleischer pushed back against the premise.

“It’s not just people who are getting free stuff, the poor or low income,” he said. “It’s people from all walks of life. It’s corporations who are getting tax benefits they don’t need anymore. It’s wealthy people who get tax cuts they don’t need anymore. I don’t limit my criticism of people who get free stuff to just one group of people.

“What wins it for the Republicans is the power of aspiration. If we have that optimistic, sunny can-do candidate, with the sense of calling American to its higher aspirational self, we can win on those grounds,” he said.

In response to a question on the key differences between the Republicans and Democrats on issues of concern to the Jewish community, Brooks pointed to Israel.

“In Congress, there is strong bipartisan support for Israel,” he said. “What really worries me is what’s taking place at the grass roots level. In poll after poll, when asked who do you most side with in Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the overwhelming majority of Republicans stand with Israel. Not even a majority of Democrats do.

“What happened at the Democratic convention in Charlotte should send a chill down everyone’s spine. The leadership scrambled to get Jerusalem back into the platform to the boos of the activists in the hall. The Democrats have to do some serious soul-searching,” he said.

© The Jewish Standard. Story link.

The "Blueprint for Victory" town hall event in Northern New Jersey drew a large and enthusiastic crowd. Photo credit: RJC
Add your reaction Share

FoxNews: Samantha Power facing early resistance in bid for UN post

Friday, June 6, 2013

WASHINGTON –  President Obama's nominee to replace Susan Rice as the next U.N. ambassador is running into early opposition from conservative Jewish groups and at least one Republican senator, as she prepares for what could be a tough confirmation. 

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, shortly after Obama nominated Samantha Power, called the selection "deeply troubling." 

Never shy about his views, Cruz bluntly questioned a series of statements Power has made, including a 2003 essay in which she called for the U.S. to institute a "doctrine of the mea culpa" to enhance credibility. 

“No nation has spilled more blood or sacrificed more for the freedom of others than ours, and yet Ms. Power has publicly embraces the need for America to continue apologizing to the world for perceived transgressions, going so far as to explicitly urge ‘instituting a doctrine of the mea culpa’,” Cruz said in a written statement. 

It's unclear whether other conservatives will join Cruz or mount a sizeable opposition. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., already has said he would support Power, while other influential lawmakers have not yet offered an opinion on her credentials. 

Obama nominated Power as he named Rice, who had a controversial tenure in the ambassador job, to be his national security adviser. Rice will not face confirmation for that position. Obama, who called Power "experienced, effective and energetic," urged the Senate to confirm her "without delay."

However, not everyone is on board with his pick. 

A few groups have come out against putting the Harvard scholar in a position to represent the country’s interests on a global scale. They say Power’s past comments on Israel and other issues should be seen as warning signs. 

The Republican Jewish Coalition said Power "has a record of statements that are very troubling to Americans who support Israel." 

"We urge members of the U.S. Senate to question her closely about her past statements and writings," RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks said in a written statement. "She must respond to the strong doubts about her views raised by that record. Senators should also examine her tenure as head of the President's Atrocity Prevention Board to see what results, if any, came out of her time there."

Critics point to a 2002 interview where Power seemed to suggest the possibility of military intervention in the Israeli-Palestinian dispute.  

-- Read the rest of this story at the FoxNews web site --

Copyright ©2013 FOX News Network, LLC
Story link.
Add your reaction Share

In Case You Missed It: President Obama lost votes in heavily Jewish precincts, Democratic analyst says

Washington, D.C. (February 11, 2013) -- The latest research by a Democratic party data analyst in South Florida underscores the effectiveness of the Republican Jewish Coalition's unprecedented outreach to the Jewish community in 2012.

The Republican Jewish Coalition conducted the largest-ever grassroots campaign in the Jewish community in top swing states, including Florida. Hundreds of RJC volunteers conducted phone banks, door-to-door literature drops, and sign-waving sessions on busy corners in key areas of the state. The RJC ran "My Buyer's Remorse" ads on broadcast and cable television and print ads in Jewish newspapers. We sent out mailers to hundreds of thousands of Florida voters and put up "Obama, Oy Vey!" billboards along major routes in South Florida. The RJC also produced a 9-minute mini-documentary on President Obama and Israel entitled Perilous Times, which was viewed over one million times.

George Bennett at the Palm Beach Post reports:

President Barack Obama easily carried Democrat-tilted Palm Beach County in November, but he got 11,555 fewer votes than in 2008. About half of that drop-off can be attributed to Democrats in 45 "very Jewish" precincts who appear to have crossed party lines and voted for Mitt Romney, a numbers-cruncher for the county Democratic Party says.


Richard Ingman, a retired chief financial officer who serves as the local party's director of data and statistics, included that estimate in a report on the 2012 elections at last Thursday's Democratic Executive Committee meeting.


It was mostly good news for Dems, but Ingman said Obama slipped in some precincts where Democrats have roughly a 3-1 registration advantage. In most of those precincts, Obama got about 75 percent of the vote. But in 45 precincts that have large senior and Jewish populations, Ingman said, Obama got around 65 percent.


"We had a problem. According to my calculations - and you have to use a lot of assumptions - 5,500 Democrats, good Democrats, in those precincts went to their polls and voted for Romney," Ingman said.


"What's their names?" shouted Mid-County Democratic Club President Allen Mergaman, who is Jewish.


"We have an issue there that we need to be aware of and deal with," Ingman continued. "But remember, in those same precincts, there were 22,000 other Democrats who have the same demographics, who share the same love of Israel, who have all the same issues, who heard all the same lies, who heard the chitter-chatter of their neighbors and still stayed loyal to President Obama."


National exit polls showed Obama getting 69 percent of the Jewish vote in 2008, down from estimates of 74 percent or 78 percent in 2008. Republicans aimed appeals at Jewish voters that cast Obama as a weak ally of Israel.

The full article is here.

Add your reaction Share

Sheldon G. Adelson: I Didn't Leave the Democrats. They Left Me

When members of the Democratic Party booed the inclusion of God and Jerusalem in their party platform this year, I thought of my parents.

They would have been astounded.

The immigrant family in which I grew up was, in the matter of politics, typical of the Jews of Boston in the 1930s and '40s. Of the two major parties, the Democrats were in those days the more supportive of Jewish causes.

Indeed, only liberal politicians campaigned in our underprivileged neighborhood. Boston's Republicans, insofar as we knew them, were remote, wealthy elites ("Boston Brahmins"), some of whose fancy country clubs didn't accept Jews.

It therefore went without saying that we were Democrats. Like most Jews around the country, being Democrat was part of our identity, as much a feature of our collective personality as our religion.

So why did I leave the party?

My critics nowadays like to claim it's because I got wealthy or because I didn't want to pay taxes or because of some other conservative caricature. No, the truth is the Democratic Party has changed in ways that no longer fit with someone of my upbringing.

One obvious example is the party's new attitude toward Israel. A sobering Gallup poll from last March asked: "Are your sympathies more with the Israelis or more with the Palestinians?" Barely 53% of Democrats chose Israel, the sole liberal democracy in the region. By contrast, an overwhelming 78% of Republicans sympathized with Israel.

Nowhere was this change in Democratic sympathies more evident than in the chilling reaction on the floor of the Democratic convention in September when the question of Israel's capital came up for a vote. Anyone who witnessed the delegates' angry screaming and fist-shaking could see that far more is going on in the Democratic Party than mere opposition to citing Jerusalem in their platform. There is now a visceral anti-Israel movement among rank-and-file Democrats, a disturbing development that my parents' generation would not have ignored.

Another troubling change is that Democrats seem to have moved away from the immigrant values of my old neighborhood—in particular, individual charity and neighborliness. After studying tax data from the IRS, the nonpartisan Chronicle of Philanthropy recently reported that states that vote Republican are now far more generous to charities than those voting Democratic. In 2008, the seven least-generous states all voted for President Obama. My father, who kept a charity box for the poor in our house, would have frowned on this fact about modern Democrats.

Democrats would reply that taxation and government services are better vehicles for helping the underprivileged. And, yes, government certainly has its role. But when you look at states where Democrats have enjoyed years of one-party dominance—California, Illinois, New York—you find that their liberal policies simply don't deliver on their promises of social justice.

Take, for example, President Obama's adopted home state. In October, a nonpartisan study of Illinois's finances by the State Budget Crisis Task Force offered painful evidence that liberal Illinois is suffering from abject economic, demographic and social decline. With the worst credit rating in the country, and with the second-biggest public debt per capita, the Prairie State "has been doing back flips on a high wire, without a net," according to the report.

Political scientist Walter Russell Mead summed up the sad results of these findings at The American Interest: "Illinois politicians, including the present president of the United States, have wrecked one of the country's potentially most prosperous and dynamic states, condemned millions of poor children to substandard education, failed to maintain vital infrastructure, choked business development and growth through unsustainable tax and regulatory policies—and still failed to appease the demands of the public sector unions and fee-seeking Wall Street crony capitalists who make billions off the state's distress."

At times, it seems almost as if President Obama wants to impose the failed Illinois model on the whole country. Each year of his presidency has produced unsustainable deficits, and he takes no responsibility for his spending. Worse still, unemployment has become chronic, and many Americans have given up on looking for work.

Whenever President Obama deplores the wealthy ("fat-cat bankers," "millionaires and billionaires," "at a certain point you've made enough money," and so on), it tells me that he has failed to learn the economic lessons of Illinois, and that he still doesn't understand the vital role entrepreneurs play in creating jobs in our society.

As a person who has been able to rise from poverty to affluence, and who has created jobs and work benefits for tens of thousands of families, I feel obligated to speak up and support the American ideals I grew up with—charity, self-reliance, accountability. These are the age-old virtues that help make our communities prosperous. Yet, sadly, the Democratic Party no longer seems to value them as it once did. That's why I switched parties, and why I'm now giving amply to Republicans.

Although I don't agree with every Republican position—I'm liberal on several social issues—there is enough common cause with the party for me to know I've made the right choice.

It's the choice that, I believe, my old immigrant Jewish neighbors would have made. They would not have let a few disagreements with Republicans void the importance of siding with the political party that better supports liberal democracies like Israel, the party that better exemplifies the spirit of charity, and the party with economic policies that would certainly be better for those Americans now looking for work.

The Democratic Party just isn't what it used to be.

Mr. Adelson, an entrepreneur and philanthropist, is a member of the RJC Board of Directors.

This article appeared in the Wall Street Journal on November 4, 2012.
Add your reaction Share

WSJ: GOP Makes Last Push for Jewish Voters

Thursday, November 1, 2012
By: Alicia Mundy

As the election looms, the eternal optimists of the Republican Jewish Coalition are making one last push into traditional Democratic strongholds of Jewish American voters in key battleground states, trying to bring in new support for presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

“The crowds are bigger this time than four years ago, and they include independents and democrats who voted for [President Barack] Obama,” said Ari Fleischer, a member of the RJC’s board and former press secretary to President George W. Bush.

Mr. Fleischer and other RJC leaders, as well as former Minn. Sen. Norm Coleman, were on their way Wednesday from a rally in Detroit to Boca Raton, Fla., part of a nine-city five-day tour that will end Thursday night in Philadelphia.

Mr. Fleischer acknowledged that every presidential election GOP Jewish leaders vow to produce better than 20-25% for Republicans, and don’t really move the numbers. But he said, this is a different time and a “more receptive environment” to make small inroads where it counts.

Jewish Democrats are skeptical.

“Republicans have been making these claims since 1980. There’s always some “unique” reason, some “unique moment” in time” for Jews to embrace Republicans, they say,” said David A. Harris, president of the National Jewish Democratic Council.

“If you went to a doctor every four years, and he gave you the same diagnosis every time, and he was wrong, would you go back?” asked Mr. Harris. That is what is happening with the Republican Jewish Coalition again, he said.

“We have data points. Barack Obama is doing better now among Jewish voters against Mitt Romney than he did in at this time in 2008 against John McCain.”

That year, Mr. Obama took about 75 % of the Jewish vote.

But the RJC and Mr. Fleischer say they aren’t looking for a surge. A “slight Jewish swing” could make the difference in Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio, said Mr. Fleischer. The RJC began a $6.5 million campaign in those states and a few other specific locales a few months ago, and it has already spent that amount on TV ads, said Mr. Fleischer.

Over the past 18 months, the RJC has created the “first proprietary Jewish voters lists” in several swing states, enabling pinpoint telemarketing and micro-targeting, and setting up an invaluable template for the next national elections, said executive director Matt Brooks.

The RJC and its volunteers have made 450,000 calls to Jewish households and visited over 100,000 homes in places such as Shaker Heights outside Cleveland, and neighborhoods in suburban Miami. Mr. Brooks said that a 1% shift to Mr. Romney in such areas could be enough to have an impact on the swing state’s final numbers.

For example, RJC leaders say that Mr. Romney’s current slight lead in Florida could rest on the Jewish vote, because although only 6% of Florida’s population is Jewish, their voter turnout represents a higher percentage of the state’s electorate.

The RJC has run an extensive TV campaign there, unveiling a new ad Wednesday in Florida, pitched to elderly Jewish Americans, using the former head of Democrats Abroad-Israel, Bryna Franklin.

It’s the last ad in the RJC’s “My Buyer’s Remorse” campaign involving “disappointed” Democrats. Ms. Bryna, 80 years old, has never voted for a Republican for president until now, according to the RJC web site. In the ad, she cites concerns about the U.S. support for Israel under Mr. Obama. “My Message to American Jews is to join me… switch sides and vote for Mitt Romney for president,” she says.

The National Jewish Democratic Council countered with its own pro-Obama video on Wednesday, featuring Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak and former U.S. AmbassadorDennis Ross. The video praises the Obama administration’s support for Israel’s security.


Copyright ©2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
Story link.

Add your reaction Share

Kampeas: RJC ‘Micro-targets’ Jews in Philly, Cleveland and south Florida

Ron Kampeas of the JTA blogged on August 29, 2012 about the RJC's upcoming 2-day grassroots outreach effort in Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. This is an excerpt.

The Republican Jewish Coalition's director, Matt Brooks, met with reporters on Wednesday and added details to the group's planned blitz of south Florida and suburban Philadelphia and Cleveland on Sept. 9 and 10, part of the $6.5 million spend he is dedicating to switching over Jewish voters.

(We’ve covered other elements, including the TV ads featuring Obama voters in 2008 who plan on voting for Romney this year, and today’s ad launch targeting a “Rabbi for Obama” who has endorsed boycott and divestment from Israel.)

The glittering prize of the $6.5 million plan, Brooks suggested, was a voters list that hones in on likely switchers and the means to tip them over to the Romney.

“We have invested serious resources to develop the first meaningful proprietary Jewish voters list,” he said.

When I asked how many voters, he grinned and said, “That’s proprietary.”

OK, so we don't know the numbers, but Brooks allowed that the list encompasses only those Jews in the three areas the RJC is targeting for "massive grassroots outreach" next month. Brooks said the list was comprehensive, using “statisticians, demographers and statisticians,” and combining various methods in previous such compilations -- cold calls, synagogue membership and last names. Digging deeper, the reasearchers have identified voters as solid Romney or solid Obama -- and targeted those in between, identifying the area that most exercises them, be it the economy or Israel.

"That ’microtargeting,” Brooks said, adds up to money saved by focusing purely on those whose votes are not yet committed.

Pitches, made through real person phone calls and door-to-door literature distribution, will emphasize the interest of the target, be it Israel, the economy, or another area. “This is the stuff that will make a critical difference,” Brooks said. “We've got something that gives a significant edge that the other side doesn’t have.”

Add your reaction Share

Jewish Exponent: Philly Jews Gear Up for GOP Convention

Wednesday, August 22, 2012
By: Bryan Schwartzman, Jewish Exponent

Lynne Lechter of Lower Merion likens the Republican Party to the state of Israel.

Both entities are morally correct in their stances, contends Lechter, a corporate attorney, but both have allowed their opponents to define them rather than articulating well what they stand for.

She hopes that the upcoming Republican National Convention, which begins Aug. 27 in Tampa, Fla., will serve as the ideal medium for the GOP to present itself as she sees it: as an inclusive, sensible movement that is motivated by a desire to restore fiscal responsibility, grow the economy and combat threats from abroad.

"I can't wait," said Lechter, who serves on the National Women's Committee of the Republican Jewish Coalition and will be heading to the convention as a guest of the RJC. "Our convention, in particular, is going to show people that we are not scripted, that we are truly more diverse than the left is at this point."

Half-a-dozen local Jews are headed to the convention, according to several activists affiliated with the RJC, though none interviewed for this article are going as official, elected delegates.

The relatively small contingent of local GOP Jews are making the trip to network, strategize for the fall election season and make the point with their presence that Jews are a force within the GOP.

They also hope to experience firsthand the official nomination of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan to the GOP ticket.

Although the days of brokered conventions are long gone -- some critics contend the events have become little more than scripted campaign commercials -- several people interviewed said they view the convention as a shared, authentic, almost cathartic experience.

Israel, Iran and other foreign policy issues will be on the agenda, but sources said they are just as eager to hear the politicos tackle health care and the economy.

The fate of Medicare, the government-funded health insurance program for seniors, is sure to be a major topic as it has become a central campaign issue ever since Romney tapped Ryan, a budget hawk, to be his running mate. Ryan and others have argued that the GOP is looking to make the health care program sustainable in the long term. Democrats charge Ryan and other Republicans with trying to dismantle the popular government-funded entity.

David Edman, a health care consultant who is attending the convention as a member of both the RJC and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, said he is eager to learn more about what the Republicans would do if they managed to repeal the Affordable Care Act. He has said he likes certain portions of the law, but overall thinks it's unworkable and fiscally irresponsible. He said he was disturbed by what he described as the out-of-control spending undertaken by Barack Obama's administration.

"I'm going as an interested Jewish American and am hoping to see the future fortunes of our country turned around," he said. "Can we afford four more years of $1 trillion annual budget deficits? That is what we are looking at as far as the eye can see."

Edman and other attendees will have their pick of events catering to Jewish Republicans.

AIPAC will be hosting several gatherings in Tampa, said Edman, a former regional chair of the pro-Israel lobby, which will have a presence at the Democratic National Convention as well.

The RJC will be hosting several events, including one featuring top RJC leadership and GOP lawmakers. The group will also be hosting high-level donors in its suite at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, said Scott Feigelstein, area director of the RJC.

Feigelstein, who is attending his third GOP convention, said he is going "to work" and he "always finds these conventions very inspiring. I draw and feed on the energy of the crowd."

Pam Levy, a member of the Republican State Committee and chair of Women for Mitt in Montgomery County, is planning to attend as an honorary delegate, which means she has no voting power but will have access to events with other delegates.

"I hope to see us all coming together and realizing that our individual differences about small matters don't matter as much as our belief that we have to get this country back on the right track," she said.

"It energizes you," said Levy, who has attended one previous convention as an alternate delegate. "You realize that all these people are with you and you are not fighting alone in this important election. We must elect Mitt Romney for president."
Copyright © Jewish Publishing Group

This article was published on the Jewish Exponent web site on August 22, 2012.
Add your reaction Share

National Review Online: The Rise of the RJC

Friday, August 3, 2012
By: Nathaniel Botwinick

There’s an old joke that where there are two Jews, there will be three opinions. For many years, however, there seemed to be only one political affiliation for American Jews — they were a monolithic Democrat voting bloc. Now, the Democrats are scrambling to ensure the support that they have increasingly taken for granted. Last Friday, Nancy Pelosi accused Republicans of “exploiting” American Jews, and Democrats are organizing a super PAC to push back against Republican advances. Can Republicans win more Jewish votes? It’s all up to the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC).

Originally the National Jewish Coalition, the Republican Jewish Coalition was founded in 1985 to connect the leaders of the Republican and Jewish communities. Since then, the RJC has worked to expand the Jewish Republican vote. Jews in America have an outsized impact on elections because they turn out in higher numbers than other demographic groups: Over 90 percent of registered Jewish voters regularly vote in elections. Furthermore, there are sizable Jewish populations in the important swing states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Florida. By virtue of their higher turnout, Jews are able to translate their position of only 4.5 percent of Florida’s population into 8 percent of the vote.

The Republican Jewish Coalition, with support from casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, has launched a hard-hitting, $6.5 million ad campaign entitled “Buyer’s Remorse” to win Jewish votes away from Barack Obama. These ads feature testimonials from former Obama supporters for whom the president’s economic policies and his treatment of Israel have led them to regret their previous backing of him. One of their most recent ads features Renie Tell, an older woman who voted for Obama in 2008. She lists all of President Obama’s failings from the economy to the Middle East that have convinced her to vote Republican, but her closing statement demonstrates the difficult task before the RJC in winning further votes: “When the stakes are this high, you don’t have to feel guilty over voting Republican.”

Matt Brooks, the RJC’s executive director, remains optimistic that, over time, his organization can overcome this deep-seated Jewish antipathy to voting Republican. “Republicans have unmistakably and unimpeachably been gaining market share in the Jewish community while Democrats have been losing,” he maintains. The overall trend is favorable for Republicans: In four of the last five presidential elections, Republicans have increased their share of the Jewish vote. In 1992, the Republican share of the Jewish vote was 11 percent. By 2004, the total had more than doubled, as George W. Bush captured 24 percent of the Jewish vote. The Republican Jewish vote did slip to 22 percent in 2008, but this may well have been an aberration related to Barack Obama’s across-the-board trouncing of John McCain.

Matt Brooks and the RJC hope to keep chipping away. They understand that it is unlikely that they will ever win the votes of the single-issue Jewish voters for whom abortion or gay marriage is paramount; instead, they are targeting their efforts at those who are concerned about the economy and Israel. Furthermore, the Jewish vote is changing in ways that are favorable to Republicans. The most fervent Jewish Democrats are from the New Deal–era generation, and their descendents are more willing to vote Republican because they do not have the same historical attachment and identification with the Democratic party. Brooks also sees further advantages in the growth of the Orthodox Jewish population, which is now the fastest growing constituency in the Jewish community: “Over half of [them] are Republican voters, so you have interesting things taking place that really bode well for us making inroads into the Jewish vote.”

Multiple polls this year lend credence to the Republican Jewish Coalition’s belief that they are on the path to success. If their results are accurate and the currently undecided Jewish vote splits, Mitt Romney could secure over 30 percent of the Jewish vote. Such a performance would approach the highest levels of Jewish Republican support since Ronald Reagan won 39 percent of the vote in 1980. According to polling by the American Jewish Committee in the spring, the most likely Jewish Republican voters were those who cited either national security or U.S.-Israeli relations as one of the most important issues in deciding their vote. Thus, the RJC’s “Buyer’s Remorse” campaign, with its foreign-policy themes, is well-targeted to increase Republican votes.

But Democrats continue to believe that Jews will persist in voting for them at the same rate. Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz scoffed at polls in July that showed increased backing for Republicans: “There actually has not been an erosion of support.” But the Democrats’ willful ignorance will cost them. Brooks argues that the Democrats’ position is comparable to the technology market: “The Democrats still sit back and say, we still got 70 percent of the Jewish vote.” In his view, the Democrats are Microsoft, once the dominant power in the personal-computer marketplace, while the Republicans are Apple: “While Microsoft sat and twiddled its thumbs, Apple went and became the dominant player — and now the roles have been reversed.”

This election could be a watershed moment for the Republican Jewish Coalition. The same economic issues that are driving voters to Mitt Romney may also move Jewish votes to the GOP’s column. And Obama’s mistreatment of Israel should inspire Jews to give Republicans a chance. The president has insisted on putting “daylight” between America and Israel’s positions, and made the unprecedented demand that Israel return to its indefensible 1967 borders. The RJC is prepared to welcome Jewish Democrats into the fold.

Nathaniel Botwinick is an Agostinelli Fellow at National Review Online.

© National Review Online 2012. All Rights Reserved.

This article was published on August 3, 2012 on National Review Online.
Add your reaction Share

Remarks by PM Netanyahu and Gov. Romney in Israel

Video released by the Prime Minister's office of Gov. Mitt Romney's visit with Israeli officials and remarks by Prime Minister Netanyahu and Gov. Romney.

See the RJC's response here.

Add your reaction Share

Mishpacha Magazine: Swinging for the Fences

Mishpacha Magazine published extensive coverage of the RJC's outreach program in Israel with iVoteIsrael. To read the entire article, click here to see a PDF of the full 4-page spread.

Israel is not an American state and it doesn’t have any electoral votes to boast of. But with the 2012 presidential race looking like a cliffhanger, President Bush’s former press secretary and the head of the Republican Jewish Coalition traveled to Israel to make voter registration in the Jewish state a priority cause...

Click here to see the entire article.

Mishpacha Magazine

Add your reaction Share