Obama, Romney woo the Jewish vote

On a trip to Israel, Mitt Romney is trying to win over a tiny sliver of a small — but powerful — section of the American electorate. President Barack Obama is doing the same at home.

But while Romney’s trip is unlikely to change the broader presidential campaign against Obama, he’s hoping to close the gap among Jewish voters.

For all the wooing of American Jews in presidential campaigns, those who say Israel’s fate drives their vote make up 6 per cent of a reliably Democratic bloc. The tiny numbers are overlaid with an outsize influence. Campaign donations from Jews or Jewish and pro-Israel groups account for as much as 60 per cent of Democratic money, and groups such as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee can bring strong pressure on candidates.

Romney needs to show his commitment to Israel because the reliably Republican evangelical Christian vote also holds candidates to account on that topic. “Jewish Americans have come to assume that mainstream politicians and elected officials will stand strongly with Israel so there’s oftentimes no urgency that is reflected in the polling,” said Robert Wexler, a former Democratic congressman from Florida whose district was heavily Jewish.

“Even partisan people who cherish the American-Israeli relationship cringe when Israel is used as a political football,” said Wexler, who was a co-chairman of Obama’s 2008 campaign.

That hasn’t stopped Romney. “I think, by and large, you can just look at the things the president has done and do the opposite,” Romney said earlier this year when asked about Israel.

Obama has riled his critics, including Romney, by urging the Israelis and the Palestinians
to make good on their promises to bring peace to the troubled Middle East. Specifically, Obama publicly has chastised Israel for continuing to build housing settlements in disputed areas. That has raised the ire of groups such as AIPAC, which feel he’s been disloyal to Israel.

The Gallup polling on Friday said Obama’s standing stood at 68 per cent among Jews, while 25 per cent favored Romney. But the Jewish vote won’t make a difference as Jewish voters make up 2 to 4 per cent of the electorate nationwide. But that’s not to say they don’t have clout.

 

Liked the story?

  • 0

    Happy
  • 0

    Amused
  • 0

    Sad
  • 0

    Frustrated
  • 0

    Angry