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The Last One Hundred Days: Rhetoric, Money, and Target Constituencies

by Steven Windmueller

July 30, 2012 | 9:39 am

With approximately 100 days to the November elections, the intensity of the campaign has accelerated. One can identify four core elements: focusing on fund raising, escalating the political rhetoric, studying key voter trends,  and creating new organizing initiatives.

 

If the recent polls are on target with reference to the Jewish vote, the roughly 14% of Jewish voters who are considered as “undecideds” will be the recipients of most of the attention by both political camps

(http://www.haaretz.com/news/u-s-elections-2012/countdown-to-2012-elections-new-jewish-vote-poll-shows-slight-gain-for-romney-1.433764). How and where will that energy play out?

Fund Raising: This past week, the Romney campaign reportedly raised some $1.5 million among Jewish supporters in Los Angeles, while the Republican Jewish Coalition launched its own fundraising effort to target Jewish voters in key swing states, including Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio.  In what they have labeled, “My Buyer’s Remorse” the RLC is seeking to sway disenchanted Obama voters into the Republican camp for 2012.

Political Rhetoric and Key Issues: The conversation around “who would be best in support of Israel” is playing out with the forthcoming visit to Jerusalem scheduled by Governor Romney.  The debate over Israel security issues has created points of controversy and tension between Jewish leaders supporting both candidates, especially in Florida.

Key Voter Trends: A series of new voter polls has also created a conversation over voter “enthusiasm.” In a recent Gallup Poll, one finds thirty-nine percent of Democrats indicating that are more enthusiastic about voting than usual, but this number is down from 2004 (68%) and 2008 (61%).  In turn, this study found that Republicans (51%) are more enthusiastic than in 2008 (35%) but register the same as they did in 2004 (51%). The key for both campaigns moving forward will be stroking their base, mobilizing their supporters, and targeting the remaining uncommitted.

Organizing Initiatives:  Targeting key elites will be one strategy. The mobilization of prominent Jewish Democrats and Republicans and Hollywood personalities will allow each side to demonstrate the scope of endorsements that they have secured in an effort to sway non-committed voters and to re-enforce support from their base. Rabbis and other prominent Jewish communal leaders will be summoned to meetings with both candidates to hear “off-the-record” briefings and to garner their endorsement and/or support.

 

Mobilizing important constituencies will be the second focus. Each side will now launch a series of ads and outreach initiatives to “sell their message.” Be prepared to be bombarded as your mail boxes will be filled with campaign literature and appeals.  Despite all of these specific steps, once past the conventions, the candidates will be concentrating on two core missions: secure financial resources and carry their message to the “toss-up” states.  As Jews are seen as an important donor base for both parties and are present in several key swing states, including Florida and Ohio, they will be central players to the unfolding events that will follow in September and October.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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From June 2006 to June 2010, Steven Windmueller served as the Dean of Hebrew Union College, Los Angeles campus.  In March of 2009, President David Ellenson named Professor...

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