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Dems Worried that Jewish Vote in Jeopardy

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Barack Obama's re-election campaign may discover on Nov. 6 that Jewish voters in battleground states such as Florida have been engaging in their own version of the Bradley effect.

Worried about the normally overwhelming Jewish support for Democratic candidates, the campaign and the Democratic Party are pulling out all the stops to get Jewish voters to cast their ballots for Obama.

And Obama should be concerned.

The GOP is spending millions of advertising dollars to lure the Jewish vote. Led by the Republican Jewish Coalition, which recently launched a $5 million television ad blitz, the Mitt Romney campaign and Republicans aim to attract a considerable number of Jewish votes.

On the surface, it appears that the Obama has little to worry about.

A September American Jewish Committee (AJC) survey of Jewish voters in Florida had Obama beating Romney 69 percent to 25 percent and a later survey in Ohio had Obama ahead 64 percent to 29 percent.

But a 10 point or more decrease in support of Jews can spell doom in battleground states like Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Nevada, and Arizona.

While Jews comprise only 3.4 percent of voters in Florida, they are a crucial bloc for the president if he expects to capture the state's 29 electoral votes.

Obama's questionable strategy toward containing the threat of a nuclear Iran, his outreach to the Arab world, his perceived lukewarm support for Israel, his failed Arab Spring policies, his rocky relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and even his failed economic policies have dismayed some Jewish voters.

While polling may reflect a small decrease in support for Obama among Jews who are strong supporters of Israel, there's even some dissatisfaction among Jewish leftists and "Hillary" liberals who are not rabid supporters of Israel. They reportedly are dissatisfied with the president's perceived abandonment of their leftist agenda.

A non-racist, Jewish version of the Bradley effect -- when voters tell pollsters they are undecided or likely to vote for a black candidate, while on election day they actually vote for the white candidate -- is in play in this election.

Because of Obama's record, some die-hard Democratic Jewish voters secretly will be voting for Romney and even other Republican Jewish candidates like Adam Hasner in the 22nd Congressional District.

Hasner told the Sun Sentinel in a recent article: "Historically, traditionally, Jewish voters have been in the Democrat column, but I think this year ... it's not as much lock step as it has been in the past."

So prominent Jewish Democrats such as Fla. Rep. Ron Klein, Democratic National Chair, Florida Congresswoman Debra Wasserman Schultz and other Obama supporters are dedicating a lot of time these days defending the president's record on dealing with Israel.

Last week, Klein wrote a piece published in The Sun Sentinel entitled "GOP twists Obama's Israel support." Klein charged that the Romney campaign is distorting "President Obama's staunch pro-Israel record."

Klein wrote: "I am dismayed when others would just as soon abandon the bipartisan nature of support for Israel and sacrifice Israel's security without thinking twice about it for the sake of political opportunism."

In addition, in a recent interview with MSNBC concerning Obama's refusal to meet with Netanyahu at the UN in New York, Wasserman-Schultz stated that "we're making sure that Jewish voters know that President Obama has a stellar record on Israel."

The truth is that Obama has done nothing during his tenure to inspire continued strong "bipartisan" Jewish support for him.

As Jimmy Carter learned in his race against Ronald Reagan, Obama may well learn that the Jewish vote should not be taken for granted.

Published in Florida Voices on October 19, 2012

Steven Kurlander blogs at Kurly's Kommentary, writes a weekly column for Fort Lauderdale's Sun-Sentinel and is an attorney and communications strategist. He can be emailed at kurly@stevenkurlander.com

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