Whether Republicans elect Jews is not as important as why we Jews don’t vote Republican. The GOP agenda, for the overwhelming majority, is not ours.
When it comes to the Jews, Republicans are single-issue campaigners – all Israel all the time – while Jews are multi-issue voters and Israel is not the top issue for most.
What’s more, the rest of the Republican agenda, dominated by far right social and religious conservatives and the Tea Parties, turns off the 70-80 percent of Jewish voters who consistently vote Democratic.
Most Jews don’t share the GOP’s uncompromising hostility to government nor positions on a broad array of domestic and social issues.
In the past, the typical Jewish Republican was fiscally conservative and socially moderate. Today, with the virtual disappearance of the moderate GOP faction, it is more likely to be an Orthodox Jew who is more comfortable with the socially conservative right and its hardline views on Israel.
The more today’s Republicans talk about their domestic agenda – exposing deep differences on issues like Social Security, Medicare, health care, reproductive rights, immigration reform, the environment, industry deregulation, same sex marriage, tax breaks for the wealthiest, aid for the poor, gun control, pay equity, church-state separation, voter access to the polls – the more difficult it is to attract Jewish voters.
Besides, there is no way to satisfy the broad mainstream of Jewish voters without losing the far larger and more important conservative base.
So why haven’t Republicans figured this out? They have; all the talk about votes is just a cover story.
It’s really about money, not votes.
Ohio Sen. Mark Hannah, the legendary political fixer, said it over 100 years ago: “There are two things that are important in politics. The first is money, and I can’t remember what the second one is.”
Campaigns have become megabillion jackpots for consultants, television and ad salesman. Nowhere is the money chase more apparent than in the Jewish community.
Jews may not vote Republican in large numbers but they are disproportionately large contributors. To both parties.
Since he and his wife gave around $100 million in their failed attempt to defeat Barack Obama two years ago, casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson has become a household name, at least in the households of political junkies. And he’s reportedly preparing to spend that much or more this year to help Republicans take control of the Senate, and more in 2016.
Read more about the money chase in my Washington Watch column.