Political Animal


September 27, 2012 3:02 PM Wedging Florida Jews

By Ed Kilgore

I wondered in an earlier post if the Romney campaign was under the impression its loud differences with Obama over recent international events could actually affect the election. Seems it could be, based on a report from the New York Times’ Lizette Alvarez about the efforts underway in Florida to chip off a chunk of Obama’s expected big margin among Jewish voters:

Focused on South Florida, Ohio and Nevada, the Republican Jewish Coalition, backed mostly by the casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, a Zionist, has begun spending $6.5 million on an air-and-ground strategy to reach Jewish voters who may view Mr. Obama as unreliable on the question of Israel’s security. Jewish voters, who generally vote for Democrats in big numbers, overwhelmingly supported Mr. Obama in 2008, giving him 78 percent of their vote, according to exit polls conducted by Edison/Mitofsky
In Florida, where the largest share of the $6.5 million is being spent, one of the group’s most visible messages is along Interstate 95 and the Florida Turnpike, including in Boca Raton and in Broward County, areas with large Jewish populations. A series of red-and-blue billboards lament: “Obama … Oy Vey!!” Then ask, “Had enough?”
Last week, the coalition began the first in a series of “buyer’s remorse” television ads featuring a Jewish voter concerned about Israel and the economy who declared that he would not vote for Mr. Obama this time around.

The question arises immediately as to whether this campaign is based on supply- or demand-side considerations—i.e., is it about an actual electoral opportunity, or about Sheldon Adelson putting up the money and insisting on it?

According to the 2008 exits, Jews represented approximately 4% of the vote in Florida, 3% in Nevada, and 2% in Ohio. That’s a pretty small target. Obama is running at about 70% among Jews in scattered polling, so there’s no empirical reason to believe he’s in big trouble with this demographic.

Sure, if Florida is as close as it was in 2000, then a small reduction in Democratic margins among Jews could be crucial, as could Democratic losses among virtually every other category of voter, including Trotskyists, Croatian-Americans, and that enduring vault of presumed swing voters, the Very Confused. As to whether it’s worth this kind of effort, or the apparent message reinforcement Team Mitt is supplying, you’d have to ask Sheldon Adelson, presumably on November 7.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • Lev @ LibraryGrape.com on September 27, 2012 3:13 PM:

    I think the best part of the story is that apparently 6.5 million doesn't buy a better slogan than, "Obama, oy vey!" Makes Noah's Bagels look like Tevye by comparison.

  • Napoleon on September 27, 2012 3:17 PM:

    The TV ad they have has been in fairly heavy rotation in Cleveland the last couple of weeks. I want to through my shoe through the tv every time it comes on since guy who has "buyer's remorse" (whom I bet never voted for Obama) is a smug a-hole.

    BTW, I am a proud Croation-American and the secret commie Muslim Kenyan has my vote.

  • BillFromPA on September 27, 2012 3:23 PM:

    My fondest hope is that Pa stays as firmly Blue as it is now. It only recently dawned on me that I haven't seen a Presiential ad in months, can't remember the last one I saw. Very few lawn signs, too.

  • Bloix on September 27, 2012 3:25 PM:

    My 86 year old mother, who was a Hilary supporter in 2008 and has never much liked Obama, although she voted for him in the general, told me last week that he is bad for Israel. All her friends dislike and distrust him. She's a Roosevelt Democrat and she's never voted for a Republican presidential candidate in her life but she may sit this one out.

  • DRF on September 27, 2012 3:33 PM:

    I'm hearing anectodally the same thing that Bloix is reporting--lots of Florida Jews are anti-Obama.

    I think the Democrats have a real opportunity in Florida and elsewhere to put the Romney campaign on the defensive by demanding that he and the RNC return all of Adelson's contributions, now that he has admitted that his contributions are principally motivated by his desire to get a more favorable approach to the existing government investigations of possible illegal conduct by Adelson and his companies.

  • Josef K on September 27, 2012 3:41 PM:

    Maybe R/R are going for a "death by a thousand cuts" strategy? They're certainly sociopathic enough to try for something like that.

  • MCD on September 27, 2012 3:46 PM:

    Anecdotally, lots of Florida Jews are anti-Obama because statistically lots of Florida Jews are anti-Obama.

    FL population = 19 million; 4% Jewish = 760,000; 30% of Jews support Romney = 228,000. So it's not like they don't exist, or we should be panicking because one of them said something.

  • rrk1 on September 27, 2012 4:04 PM:

    Zionist Jews have been going over to the Rethugs for quite a while. In Florida this only matters if the election is very close, and the magic way Florida keeps people away from the polls and counts its votes is once again in play. It undoubtedly is. Elections in Florida are about as dirty as they get. Losing a chunk of Jewish grandmothers is not good news.

  • c u n d gulag on September 27, 2012 4:32 PM:

    The Democrats ought to take out road signs next to the ones he put up there:

    Oy Vey!

  • howard on September 27, 2012 5:08 PM:

    my parents, who met at labor zionist summer camp in the '40s and who cannot stand netahnyahu, tell me that in their demographic of jewish florida snowbirds there are definitely some who claim to be anti-obama because of israel but who are in fact anti-obama because they are "voting their pocketbooks."

  • Werewolf on September 27, 2012 5:39 PM:

    This Zionist Jew (who was born and raised in Florida) is voting for Obama, thank you very much. BTW, Adelson should suffer the same fate as the infamous Jewish pimps of Buenos Aires in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, who had to found their own cemeteries because they were completely ostracized by the Jewish community.

  • cwolf on September 27, 2012 6:13 PM:

    Idleson and rMoney will be singing this Beatles classic come election day...
    Can't Buy Me Love.