WASHINGTON – Districts with large concentrations of Jewish voters were key to
GOP contender Mitt Romney’s margin of victory in Ohio, according to a longtime
Jewish Republican activist.
Merom Brachman, who has previously served as
a delegate to the GOP national convention, pointed to Romney’s success in
Cleveland and Cincinnati as well as both cities’ surrounding suburbs, areas
where the lion’s share of Ohio’s Jews live.
“It was the clearest
separation I’ve seen in 25 years,” Brachman said of the geographical divide in
the vote for the Republican nomination.
Romney racked up key victories in
six states on Super Tuesday, propelling him closer to the Republican
However, his chief competitor Rick Santorum also
picked up wins in Tennessee, Oklahoma and North Dakota, while Newt Gingrich took
his home state of Georgia with neither showing signs of dropping out. The final
candidate, Ron Paul, fared the worst, failing to capture a single state,
including some seen as his best shot at a victory.
Tuesday in Massachusetts, where he served as governor, Vermont, Virginia, Alaska
and Idaho, many of which he won by considerable margins. But the win he eked out
in the key swing state of Ohio was the most significant.
winner Tuesday was Josh Mandel, the Jewish state treasurer who now becomes the
Republican candidate for Senate against incumbent Democrat Sherrod Brown. In
contrast, US Representative Dennis Kucinich, a frequent critic of Israel, lost
his spot as the Democratic candidate.
The Ohio vote for Romney (38
percent) and Santorum (37%) fractured cleanly along urban-suburban versus rural
lines, demonstrating that Romney still faces a challenge in winning over
conservative values voters.
Brachman said that Ohio’s Jewish Republicans
tend to be in the “mainstream” of the party, which is connected to their general
support for Romney, who he also supports.
He said Jewish voters saw him
as more understanding and compatible on the range of issues important to them,
from an activist foreign policy to the separation of church and
While Santorum has emphasized a robust international approach, he
has also criticized the separation of church and state; Paul, in contrast, has
called for an isolationist American foreign policy and elimination of foreign
aid, including to Israel.
Brachman added that Israel was the top issue
for the Jewish GOP electorate.
“There is no question that the top concern
across the board among Republican Jewish vote... is standing up for Israel’s
security,” he said.
“It wasn’t subliminal. It was right up
Romney, Santorum and Gingrich all took time from their final day
of Super Tuesday campaigning to address the AIPAC Policy Conference, where they
stressed their commitment to Israel and the need for a tough approach to
While those positions clearly resonated with the thousands of
Americans at the Washington convention center, as they did with Ohio’s Jewish
voters, those issues were not otherwise at the heart of Tuesday’s vote,
political experts said.
“The number one predictor is the economy,” said
Republican campaign strategist Mike Murphy, speaking at a political roundtable
during the AIPAC conference. “Foreign policy doesn’t count until it counts – but
it may suddenly count, and Iran may suddenly count.”
“Foreign policy will
be an overriding issue in terms of what’s next for America,” said pollster John
Zogby, who spoke at the State Department’s Foreign Press Center during Super
“It’s to be expected that Republicans will talk about going to
war, about taking a strong position against Iran, about the safety and security
of Israel,” he said, explaining that was “not so much because of the Jewish
vote, but because of the evangelical vote, which comprises a significant portion
of the total Republican vote.”
On the Super Tuesday vote, however, he
said: “It’s the economy. By and large, that’s the number-one issue.”
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