USJew­sturn­toObama

The Jewish Chronicle - - World News - BYNATHANGUTTMAN WASH­ING­TON

AS THE pres­i­den­tial cam­paign en­ters its fi­nal phase, Demo­crat con­tender Barack Obama is con­sol­i­dat­ing his lead with Amer­i­can Jewish vot­ers in polls and reach­ing a 3:1 mar­gin over his Repub­li­can ri­val John McCain.

While this has be­come the golden stan­dard for Demo­crat nom­i­nees, Mr Obama has had to work harder than his pre­de­ces­sors to woo Jewish votes. A year ago he faced a mas­sive neg­a­tive cam­paign and was forced to fend off al­le­ga­tions that he was Mus­lim and held anti-Is­raeli views. Later, Mr Obama faced re­sent­ment based on the an­tiIs­raeli rhetoric of his for­mer pas­tor, Jeremiah Wright.

Yet ac­cord­ing to the lat­est Gallup poll, Mr Obama now has a sup­port level of 74 per cent, com­pared to only 22 per cent of US Jews who said they will vote for Mr McCain next week.

One rea­son seen for Mr Obama’s in­creased sup­port was the se­lec­tion of Sarah Palin as Mr McCain’s run­ning mate. Ms Palin, says Ira Fore­man, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Na­tional Jewish Demo­cratic Coun­cil, im­pacted on the way Jewish vot­ers saw Mr McCain. “His per­ceived mod­er­a­tion was hurt dra­mat­i­cally,” said Mr Fore­man. Ms Palin’s con­ser­va­tive so­cial views are at odds with the main­stream com­mu­nity.

Mr Obama may also owe part of his in­crease in pop­u­lar­ity to ex­ten­sive work done with Jewish vot­ers in the bat­tle­ground states of Florida, Ohio and Penn­syl­va­nia. For­mer am­bas­sadors Den­nis Ross and Daniel Kurtzer, to­gether with Con­gress­men Robert Wexler, Debbie Wasser­man-Schultz and oth­ers, have vouched re­peat­edly for Mr Obama’s pro-Is­rael cre­den­tials.

Both sides spent the last week of the cam­paign try­ing to win over un­de­cided Jewish vot­ers.

The Repub­li­can Jewish Coali­tion spent un­prece­dented funds on ad­ver­tis­ing in key states, por­tray­ing Mr Obama as weak on se­cu­rity be­cause of his will­ing­ness to talk to Iran. “Con­cerned about Barack Obama’s naïve for­eign pol­icy?” the TV ads ask rhetor­i­cally, as the an­swer ap­pears on the screen: “You should be.”

There are also sev­eral con­gres­sional races where Jewish candidates are ex­pect­ing to win. Al­most all Jewish in­cum­bents are seen as safe with the only ex­cep­tion be­ing Repub­li­can Se­na­tor Norm Cole­man of Min­nesota, who is tied in a tough race — but his op­po­nent, co­me­dian-turned-ra­dio per­son­al­ity Al Franken, is also Jewish.

PHOTO: AP

Wow­ing the crowds: the Demo­cratic can­di­date is pre­dicted to win nearly 75 per cent of the Jewish vote

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