Although the Jewish vote for the Republican Party has been slipping, the campaign to reelect George Bush is finding a new source of support from Orthodox Jews. Recent surveys have shown Jews supporting John Kerry by a wide margin [see September RW], but The New Republic (Sept. 13) reports that the Orthodox Jewish factor may be important for Bush in swing states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida.
Noam Scheiber writes that Orthodox Jews are naturally more comfortable with Republican positions on such issues as gay rights, abortion, school choice and faith-based initiatives, as well as Bush’s strong support for Israel.
The numbers of such voters “aren’t trivial. Estimates for south Florida’s Orthodox Jewish population exceed 50,000 (out of approximately 750,000 Jews in the state). The Cleveland area boasts several thousand Orthodox Jews. Philadelphia and Detroit have large Orthodox populations of their own.”
Bush could easily win more than 50 percent of the vote from this group, improving his support from 2000 when an estimated 60 percent of Orthodox Jews voted for Gore. That hope is behind the new Republican strategy of working closely with key Orthodox rabbis in the various communities. Also important for the Republican vote are the thousands of Orthodox who live in Israel but are still voting citizens in the U.S.