Sheldon Adelson has said he'll pour as much as $100 million into this presidential campaign, and the fraction he's spending to back a group courting Jewish voters is small, but it's still a big bet on a demographic known for voting blue. According to The New York Times' Jeff Zeleny, the casino magnate and Romney backer, and other members of the board of directors of the Republican Jewish Coalition, have pledged $6.5 million "to build a comprehensive list of Jewish voters and to wage a word-of-mouth campaign, amplified through social media and television advertising." They'll focus on Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, and the campaign sounds a bit like Obama's appeal to Jewish voters in 2008. RJC wants to chip away at the 70 percent support Obama won among Jewish voters in the last election by appealing to their sense of "buyer's remorse." A Gallup poll last month showed Jewish support for the president had dropped to 64 percent. Adelson and the RJC don't intend to sway the majority of Jewish voters, but rather to turn just enough to bleed votes from the Democrats.
Back in 2008, Obama paid special attention to his Jewish constituants, appealing to them personally to support "a black guy with a Muslim-sounding name," as the Los Angeles Times' Nicholas Riccardi reported. Republicans had made inroads into the traditionally Democratic voting block, snagging 24 percent of the vote in the previous election, NPR pointed out, so Obama traveled to Israel and campaigned hard in Florida, and his supporters, like comedian Sarah Silverman, embarked on a social media campaign to reach out to individual voters. Silverman's extremely viral Great Schlep video and website appealed to younger Jews to visit their grandparents and persuade them to vote for Obama. Now Adelson and his group want to try a similar approach in reverse, reaching just enough Jewish voters, one by one, to weaken Obama's support. “We don’t need to get a majority of the vote to win,” RJC executive director Matt Brooks told Zeleny. “When we take votes away from Democrats, we are taking votes from a key part of their constituency.”
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.