Could the kosher vote really decide the American election?

By Dan Friedman, November 1, 2012
A Democrat rally, in Youngstown, Ohio, on Monday

A Democrat rally, in Youngstown, Ohio, on Monday

The biggest storm in the US in at least a century has afforded President Barack Obama the opportunity to look serious and presidential, and has given Governor Mitt Romney some unopposed campaign time.

As the vote draws near and the two campaigns retain lawyers to spar in the event of a tie, the minuscule number of Jewish voters in the swing states have become ever more important.

In Florida, where a hefty 29 electoral votes are in play and where memories of 2000’s Tallahassee recount are still fresh, both parties have been airing TV ads directed at Jewish voters on President Obama’s stance on Israel.

Mr Romney’s campaign wants to show that Mr Obama is a pusillanimous president who went on an “apology tour” of mainly Muslim states to say sorry for American policies. To that end, it followed up September television ads using footage of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with late October commercials cut from the third presidential debate.

The Obama campaign countered the latter using TV spots featuring footage from the same debate which showed him talking about his deep commitment to Israel and his understanding of Yad Vashem. None of the ads seem to have done much to change the minds of the 3.4 per cent of the state’s voters who identify as Jewish: they still appear set to vote about 70 per cent Democrat.

In Ohio, the story is a little different. The Jewish population is smaller as a whole (147,000) and smaller as a proportion of the state at only 1.3 per cent. There is little advertising focused on the Jewish community. But, depending on what happens in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Virginia, Mr Romney may need to win both Florida and Ohio.

Although the result has been balanced on a knife’s edge over the past year, three recent polls from Ohio suggest that the margin of Mr Obama’s lead at the moment is between two and four percentage points — larger than the entire Jewish population. It may be that the election is decided in Ohio, but if so, it probably won’t be decided by Ohio’s Jews.

Last updated: 4:45pm, November 1 2012