In Nevada’s nail-baiter race, the Jewish vote could determine the winner

Republicans are likely to win back the House of Representatives and eyeing a Senate victory as well, while Democrats seek to expand their Senate margin, promising voters to codify Roe v. Wade.

 Will the Jewish vote determine the outcome of the Nevada race? (photo credit: RJC)
Will the Jewish vote determine the outcome of the Nevada race?
(photo credit: RJC)

WASHINGTON – Nevada’s Senate race is a true nail-biter. Recent polls suggest that Republican Adam Laxalt holds a narrow, two-point lead over Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto. And with a Senate equally divided 50-50 under Democratic control, both parties are fighting to flip at least one seat in these upcoming midterm elections.

Republicans are likely to win back the House of Representatives and are eyeing a Senate victory as well, while Democrats seek to expand their Senate margin, promising voters to codify Roe v. Wade.

In the 2020 elections, Biden carried the state by fewer than 34,000 votes, and this round looks as competitive as 2020, if not more. Thus, the 70,000 to 80,000 Jewish voters in Nevada, and their turnout, could be a decisive factor.

Both Jewish groups – the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) and the Jewish Democratic Council of America (JDCA) – marked Nevada as a key race, spending heavily on TV ads and “get out the vote” efforts.

Jews "get out the vote" in Nevada

“We’re doing a lot,” said Alan Hedrick, the RJC’s field director. “For the past couple of months, I’ve been working with the RJC, and we’ve had some local events to drive out the Jewish vote. We had a huge event with Adam Laxalt and Nikki Haley a couple of weeks ago. We did a ‘meet the candidates in the Sukkah’ event last week. We’ve been engaging people at a local level with door-knocking.”

A supporter cheers as U.S. President Donald Trump addresses the Republican Jewish Coalition 2019 Annual Leadership Meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., April 6, 2019 (credit: KEVIN LAMARQUE/REUTERS)A supporter cheers as U.S. President Donald Trump addresses the Republican Jewish Coalition 2019 Annual Leadership Meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., April 6, 2019 (credit: KEVIN LAMARQUE/REUTERS)

“For the past couple of months, I’ve been working with the RJC and we’ve had some local events to drive out the Jewish vote. We had a huge event with Adam Laxalt and Nikki Haley a couple of weeks ago. We did a ‘meet the candidates in the Sukkah’ event last week; We’ve been engaging people at a local level with door knocking.”

RJC field director Alan Hedrick

“I just got back from door-knocking today in Summerlin,” he said. “Our data allows us to help target those who may be identified as Jewish voters. And so it’s been great to get out there and door-knock and try to engage the voters to motivate them to vote for Adam Laxalt and our other congressional candidates.”

“Usually, I go with one or two volunteers, and we drive around to the different neighborhoods,” Hedrick said. “The benefit is I’m very involved in the Jewish community. Sometimes, I’m knocking on [doors of] people who I see in shuls; sometimes it’s new people. And so we go and engage them about the issues that impact the Jewish community here in Nevada.”

“Our messaging is that Iran is still looking to [acquire] nuclear weapons, and the Biden administration has already talked about proposing a new Iran deal,” he said. “And in order to stop Iran, we need to have Adam Laxalt in the Senate. We need to have strong congressional leaders to stand up against the Biden administration to make sure Iran doesn’t get a deal and that Israel has the authority to decide what they do with their lands and to continue to support Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.”

Margy Feldman, the JDCA’s Nevada’s chapter leader, said: “We’re making a lot of phone calls and texts, knocking on lots of doors. My feet are killing me; I’m walking like crazy.”

“We’re on the ground, doing meet and greets, having voting parties and get out the vote [events],” she said.

Feldman said there were about 70,000 Jewish voters and that they are almost equally divided between the parties.

“If we figure that we have half of the Jewish population, [it means that] ‘get out to vote’ is 35,000 people,” she said. “Joe Biden won this state by 33,000 votes. So we could easily make the case that if the Jewish [Democrats] stayed home, you would never win. So getting out the Jewish votes is really, really important.”

“Getting out the Jewish vote is really important, like every minority group, and now more than ever, with antisemitism growing throughout the country,” Feldman said.

Abortion rights are also very important, she said, adding: “We feel that a woman’s right to choose is actually a Jewish issue. And all of our values are very well supported by our senator and representatives, and we have really good relationships with them. But the races are really close and nail-biting.”

“Israel remains really, really important to me and to many, many, many Jewish voters,” Feldman said. “I think a huge percentage of them – we just really care about Israel, and we want peace there. It’s important to us – it’s like my home, even though it’s not.”

“I’ve been involved in politics for many years, and I used to love the portion of the campaign that was called persuasion, and I would pride myself on being able to [convince] people,” she said. “But today, we are so polarized that it’s almost impossible to change people’s minds. And there’s a very, very small amount of voters that haven’t made up their mind. So, we put most of our energy into making sure that they know when their ballots are coming. They know where they can vote, they know how they can vote and that they’re going to vote.”