[By Yossi Gestetner]
Reports and analysis in recent days suggest that it would be a long-shot for Republicans to win Anthony Weiner’s House seat; New York’s 9′Th Congressional District which covers sections of Queens and Brooklyn.
Well, if Republicans do not reach out directly to some voters in the district addressing the issues they care most, then indeed it is a long shot for Republicans to win that seat. If Republicans fail to reach out directly to the mass amount of Jewish voters in Weiner’s district – as Republican Jane Corwin of NY 26 failed to do in a district that has enough Jewish votes to flip the outcome of the just held special election – then indeed, winning NY-9 would be a long shot.
Main stream political consultants go with the long-standing belief that “Jews Vote for Democrats,” and as such, campaigns don’t bother reaching out to this community in an effective way. Indeed, if one looks at overall Jewish voting patterns in the USA, the above quote holds true. But in many recent elections, Orthodox Jewish and Hasidic voters in New York and elsewhere (masses of them residing in Weiner’s district), have taken a pattern of their own: In some cases, 70% of them vote Republican on State-wide and Federal-level seats!
Senator John McCain in 2008 and Governor Chris Christie in New Jersey a year later are two most notable examples of Republican candidates who won large percentages of the Orthodox Jewish and Hasidic Vote. In New York’s Assembly District 48 – the Orthodox/Hasidic stronghold of Borough Park, Brooklyn – Republican Gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino with all his failings won a similar amount of votes than the incumbent Jewish NY Senator Charles Schumer who ran against an unknown, non-campaigner Jay Townsend. In that AD, Paladino came in considerably weaker than other State-wide Republican candidates who actively sought the Jewish Vote: Don Donovan for Attorney General and Joe DioGuardi for U.S. Senate (I worked for the latter during the Primary and the General elections).
It is not a done deal that Orthodox and Hasidic Jews will vote to the Right in State-wide or Federal elections. A Federal-level incumbent such as Weiner, who receives on average a total of 67,000 votes in off year elections, may retain in his district a larger percent of the Jewish Vote than other candidates. However, many Jewish voters, thinking that the Democrat will ‘anyway win,’ don’t participate in the election. This presents a large pool of untapped voters that Republicans can try and reach, in addition to chip away at a large number of current Jewish Weiner’s voters for the following reason:
Orthodox Jewish and Hasidic voters are extremely tuned in to the political discourse of this country. This holds especially true by those who are age 18 through 35. Many if not most of them grew up in immigrant households who voted Democrat in order to support politicians that hand out social programs, but these 18-35′ers see that the Democrats’ agenda has failed to provide them or their parents a reputable and independent living. In addition, it is a Democrat – New York Governor Cuomo – who is cutting social programs, which in turns shows to the Jewish Communality that relying on Government is not a sustainable thing.
These voters – many still in need of Government Assistance due to the system being rigged against those who try growing on their own, such as my self – want the pro-growth, pro-business, pro-family, pro-strong defense agenda of the Conservative Republicans. As a result, Orthodox Jewish and Hasidic voters flock to Republicans, and many more are fans of Conservative Talk Show Hosts.
Jewish voters in America – of all stripes – have more on their mind than just Israel, Israel and Israel. While being pro-Israel is important to many Jews, these communities have concerns that are closer to home and closer to their pocket than Israel. In fact, the history of Democrats being weak on foreign relations and defense is a minus to Israel, yet Jews still vote for Democrats. Why? Because other issues obviously matter more. As such, Republicans who want the support of Jewish voters should address issues beyond a focus on Israel. By doing so, Republican candidates – specially candidates in swing states where a mere 5,000 Jewish voters can swing the election – will find an ever-growing community that is welcome to these ideas and ready to vote Republican in larger numbers.
Yossi Gestetner is a New York-Based PR Consultant in the Orthodox Jewish/Hasidic Communities. He can be reached email@example.com
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