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New Commercials Unlikely to Sway Jewish Voters in Battleground States
Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux,

The latest GOP effort to convince Jewish Americans, a solidly Democratic voting bloc, to rethink their voting preferences is, according to its national director, “unparalleled.” A $6.5 million ad campaign from the Republican Jewish Coalition, titled “My Buyer’s Remorse,” targets Jewish voters in battleground states who voted for Obama in 2008 but are now feeling let down. The campaign debuted on Monday, seeking to gain momentum from Mitt Romney’s trip to Israel.

A columnist for the Daily Beast argues the campaign could work because it emphasizes the fact that many of the people it targets have never voted for a Republican before. But it’s unclear whether the campaign will have much success. All three of the RJC ads focus at least in part on Israel, an issue that only 4% of Jewish Americans identified as most important to their vote for president in the fall in the 2011 Jewish Values Survey. And while the rest of the ads’ content is centered around the economy, which half (50%) of Jewish Americans said was the most important issue for their vote, it seems unlikely that their message will have much traction.

In March, Public Religion Research Institute found that over 6-in-10 (62%) of Jewish Americans said they would like to see Barack Obama reelected, a level of support comparable to a similar point in the 2008 campaign. Over 6-in-10 (61%) Jewish Americans said they had a favorable opinion of Obama, compared to 29% who said they had a favorable perspective on Romney. A Gallup survey from earlier this summer found, similarly, that 68% of Jewish registered voters favored Obama, compared to 25% who favored Romney.

The story is slightly, but not dramatically, different in the battleground state of Florida. While Florida Jews were, at the time of the survey, somewhat ambivalent about Obama’s job performance, with half (50%) saying that they approved of Obama’s performance and 46% saying they disapproved, they are not particularly enamored with Romney. Six-in-ten (60%) Florida Jews said they had an unfavorable opinion of Romney, while 39% said they had a favorable view. It’s no wonder, given these findings, that the RJC’s advertisements focus on attacking Obama’s policies, rather than emphasizing Romney’s personal appeal.

Both campaigns are focusing, in particular, on Jews in Florida, a state that could be pivotal in a close race. But it’s unlikely that the RJC’s ads alone – particularly those that focus on Israel – will result in tectonic shifts in the preferences of Jewish voters. In fact, if history is any guide, Obama’s ultimate advantage over Romney among Jewish voters is likely to be substantial.