Jewish Journal


February 1, 2008

Why Huckabee will bomb in big cities


He might be a favorite of evangelicals, but former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee has said some things that scare other Americans, particularly those oh-so-coveted swing voters.

Zero percent—that’s a bagel—of New York Jews favored Huckabee over the other Republican front-runners in a mid-January poll by Siena College. And a completely unscientific search here in Los Angeles didn’t yield better results. (Huckabee’s press office did not respond to a request for info on any Jewish volunteers in California; Greenfield also was unaware of any supporters.)

Here’s how Jacques Berlinerblau, the author of “Thumpin’ It,” explained that phenomenon to me:

“Jews have been conditioned to play it close to the vest and keep their religious sentiments to themselves,” said Berlinerblau, an associate professor of Jewish civilization at Georgetown University. “It is so viscerally in our cultural DNA, I don’t think we are very comfortable with public faith-and-values talk. Especially when it is coming from a Christian spokesperson.”

I know what you are thinking: Jews aren’t typically considered swing voters. True, but if the Republican nominee is John McCain, we will most certainly see more Jews vote Republican than if the nominee is Huckabee or Mitt Romney or, heaven help us, Ron Paul. The same can be said for those who consider themselves an amalgam of liberal and conservative political opinions.

The question then becomes: What happens to the evangelical vote if the nominee is not Huckabee?

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