After two frenetic days of canvassing and outreach to Jewish voters in battleground states, the Republican Jewish Coalition is celebrating the conclusion of “the largest effort of this kind ever undertaken in the Jewish community.”
“I’m really pleased. The level of participation says a lot about what’s going on in the Jewish community and the real problem President Obama has with Jewish voters going into this election,” RJC head Matt Brooks told The Times of Israel Tuesday.
The RJC, the Republican Party’s Jewish outreach arm, on Monday night concluded two days of canvassing in Jewish communities in South Florida, Philadelphia and Cleveland, areas considered important to carrying their respective states in the November 6 presidential elections.
According to the group, some 1,000 volunteers from around the United States knocked on “tens of thousands of doors” and handed out literature to 100,000 Jewish homes in a bid to shift Jewish votes from the Democratic party to the Republican.
“I’ve been doing this for twenty-something years,” said Brooks. “I think the record clearly shows we’ve been making inroads in the Jewish community, and for the last five elections we’ve been gaining market share with Jewish voters.”
He cited a growing voter base for Republicans that rose steadily from 1992’s 11% who preferred George H.W. Bush over Bill Clinton, to 16% in 1996, 19% in 2000 who voted for Bush the son, and 24% in 2004.
Obama may have changed the trajectory slightly, with a drop to 22% in 2008, but Brooks believes that particular election year, in which Republicans generally “got wiped out,” doesn’t reflect the trend for 2012.
“I am extremely confident that 2012 will see a significant increase from where we were in 2008,” he said.
Democrats have often noted that the Democratic Party’s strong showing among Jewish voters is based on strong identification among Jews with the party’s social and economic platform, and not only on Israel, on which Republicans have focused their attacks this election season.
But Brooks rejects the notion that Jews are automatically Democrats on economic and social issues.
“On critical domestic issues,” he says, “the Democrats clearly do not have a monopoly. People are worried about the future of this country. You can’t have a strong America, unless America is strong economically as well.
“Jews want to see an American economy that’s growing, that’s creating jobs, that’s not bankrupting our country’s future, as we’re seeing in Europe, with France and Spain and Italy right now. And they want to see a country in which we don’t have nearly 50 percent of the kids graduating from college who can’t find a job. This isn’t the America the Jewish community wants or expects.”
Between the sluggish economic recovery and recent Democratic flaps over Israel, the RJC sees an opportunity it plans to exploit.
It announced on Tuesday a new billboard campaign, placing eight billboards with the headline “Obama… Oy Vey!” over high traffic areas in South Florida, funding a print ad this week in 11 Jewish papers in battleground states decrying the Democrats’ platform gaffes from last week, and preparing large mail, print and television campaigns in the coming weeks.
“We will continue phone banking, our grassroots door-to-door, [sending] high-profile surrogates to speaking events,” and other activities, Brooks promises. “It’s a busy time.”
In the end, the 2012 elections will prove “that there’s real buyer’s remorse in the Jewish community. A lot of people who voted for Obama in 2008 are not voting for him this time.”
Republicans, he believes, “are poised to continue to make inroads among Jewish voters.”