Jewish Democrats See Florida as Hillary’s Blue Wall
It is down to the wire in the Sunshine State.
Since last week, Donald Trump has been closing the gap with Hillary Clinton nationally and in key swing states. It is clear that Trump has the momentum going into the final weekend of the presidential race. But given his narrow path to victory, Democrats are determined to deny Trump from getting to 270 electoral votes by turning the vote in one of their key constituencies in Florida.
On Wednesday, Yuval Rabin, the son of the late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, sent an email to nearly 50,000 target Jewish households in Florida sharing a video of past and present Israeli and Jewish community leaders praising Clinton and her commitment to Israel’s security.
The video, a project of the National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) and its newly-created super PAC “Jews for Progress,” features quotes by former President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, former Prime Minister and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Knesset Member and former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and Senator John McCain.
“I am convinced Secretary Clinton, like her husband, have more than proved their loyalty not only to Rabin and his memory but even more so to Israel’s security and wellbeing,” Rabin wrote, urging undecided voters to watch the video and draw their own conclusions.
Last week, the NJDC sent out its first video featuring former Senator and vice presidential candidate Joe Lieberman, and titled “What would Joe (Lieberman) Do?” Hillary Clinton has a “strong, consistent pro-Israel record,” Lieberman said in the video shared via email and on social media and formatted into an audio-version robocall to 110,000 households.
In an interview with Jewish Insider last month, Lieberman said that given how close the election is in the Sunshine State, the Jewish vote will matter, significantly, because “turnout is generally higher among Jewish voters.”
“I think the Jewish vote will be very important here,” he said, echoing his former running mate, Al Gore, who recently said that he considers himself “Exhibit A” for the fact that every vote matters. “I offer myself as Exhibit B.”
Officially launched at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia in July, Jews for Progress has been spending over $1 million in the final weeks leading up to Election Day, The campaign included dozens of Op-Eds and ads, rapid response, and fact checking with countless reporters on a daily basis, according to a source familiar with NJDC’s recent activities.
Just six months ago, conventional wisdom was that if Donald Trump were to win the Republican presidential primary, he would receive record low support among Jewish voters. A poll published in August, following weeks of controversial and offensive comments by the Republican nominee, showed Clinton leading Trump by 43 points among Jewish voters in Florida. But the poll and an internal poll conducted over several weeks showed that Hillary Clinton was underperforming among Jewish voters, even when compared to President Obama’s level of support in 2012.
Modeled after NJDC’s successful 2012 campaign called “The Hub,” a group of leading Jewish Democrats – including former members of Congress, fundraisers, and political operatives – founded the new super PAC to target what they called persuadable and undecided Jewish voters in eight swing states. Leading the effort is former Congressmen Ron Klein and Robert Wexler; Michael Adler, a Florida developer and a member of the NJDC’s Executive Committee; Marc Stanley, Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz’s top fundraiser Steve Paikowsky, and veteran fundraiser Fran Katz Watson, while Bluelight Strategies, headed by Steve Rabinowitz and Aaron Keyak, handle the day to day operations.
“We are taking nothing for granted in making sure that Jewish voters understand what’s at stake in this election and why their vote matters,” Klein told Jewish Insider. “Hillary Clinton is a tried and true friend of Israel with a long steady history of understanding Israel’s needs and strategic interests. Donald Trump will say anything to anybody, and in particular, as it relates to Israel, he is reckless, uneducated, and unreliable in his understanding of the Middle East. Jewish voters are also deeply offended and even frightened about Trump’s stoking of hate in his political campaign. The Jewish community has a long, historic perspective on what starts as political populism and demagoguery, and evolves into political discrimination and persecution.”
In an interview with Jewish Insider last year, NJDC’s chairman Greg Rosenbaum boasted that Florida ended up in the Obama column in 2012 due to a concentrated effort to mobilize Jewish voters in the last weeks of the campaign. An exit poll conducted by pollster Mark Mellman showed an increase of support from 59 to 71 percent – a twelve point shift in seven weeks, which was about 144,000 additional votes. The President’s margin of victory in Florida was less than 1 percent – 70,000 votes
The Clinton campaign and their supporters are hoping that the concentrated efforts among persuadable Jewish voters will bear fruit and prevent Trump from winning Florida, a state he needs to win to become president.
Trump held three rallies across the state on Wednesday and is expected to return before next Tuesday. Clinton, President Obama and Vice President Biden also making GOTV campaign stops over the weekend.
Jewish voters represent 3 to 6 percent of the electorate. Trump is ahead by 0.7 percentage points, according to the RealClearPolitics average.