The Philadelphia Jewish Voice

October 2006

Special Dossier: Decision 5767
• Rick Santorum On Iran
• Allen: Days Of Refusal
• Electing Nonchristians
• Casey: $50M For Israel
• Political Reform
• Lieberman's Loss

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• Smart Israel Support
• Victim To Criminal
• Demonizing Israel
• Tip Of The Iceberg
• Immoral Equivalence
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• Jewish Oncology
• Baghdad High Holidays
• Another Internet Hoax
• 'W' Is For 'Wealth'
• Letters To The Editor

• Community Calendar
• Three Libraries

In Their Own Words
• Patrick Murphy

Networking Central
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Living Judaism
• Leviticus 17
• Prophecy Sadly Fulfilled
• Fight Gay Marriage Ban
• Children and Prayer
• A New Year and Nu?

Raising A Mensch
• One Year After Katrina
• Redefining Success

The Kosher Table
• Happy New Year

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Special Dossier: Decision 5767 - Jewish Perspectives
A variety of campaign buttons and stickers, each appealing to Jewish sensibilities through the use of Judaic symbols or the Hebrew language. One buttongives the election year according to the Jewish calendar: 5761. (Library of Congress)

I Am Jewish; Hear Me Vote

Each election season the National Jewish Democratic Committee and the Republican Jewish Council seem to redouble their efforts to influence the Jewish vote. Depending on who you ask the Democrats seem to lock up between 80 and 90 percent of the Jewish vote.

Why the sudden interest? Why have the political elite chosen the chosen people to receive such attention when we make up only 1.3% of the US population. 

Several reasons leap to mind:

High Jewish Turnout: We are the people of the book. Jews on average are better educated than the general population. Jeff Hauser of the NJDC says the demographics of the community leads one to believe that Jewish turnout (particularly in off-year elections) is much higher than average turnout. Jews make-up about 2.3% of the Pennsylvania population, but Jews are expected to represent close to 5% of the turnout this fall. In 2004 they may have been over 3% of turnout.

Jewish Fundraising: Republican fiscal policy often favors the richest Americans, so it is not surprising that most affluent groups contribute heavily to Republican candidates. American Jews are the largest exception to this rule. While the RJC has much bigger budgets than the NJDC, the Jewish world at large gives much greater gifts to the Democratic committees (DNC, DSCC, DCCC), Democratic candidates, and liberal 527's than Republican Jews give to their comparable give to their comparable candidates and organizations. Many Jews see the Democratic domestic agenda more in line with their views of Tikkun Olam and separation of Church and State. Republicans would like to bring Jews in line with the rest of the upper class by contending that Republicans provide better support of Israel, while Democrats strive to preserve this key source of funding contending that they provide more consistent support of Israel. 

Buttons, stickers and other election memorabilia offer a snapshot of Jewish participation in the political process as members of Congress. (Library of Congress)

Policy Setting: Being better educated on average has allowed Jews to assume positions among the intellectual elite in our country. Opinion leaders are disproportionately Jewish whether political consultants, policy folks, high level civil servants in key federal bureaucracies (such as State, OMB, Defense, Treasury, Justice, ...), high level political appointees (federal agencies, White House, Congress, ...), political journalists, political prognosticators, academic scholars. State Department, D whether in the media, on campus, in the government, or on think tanks. By influencing Jewish thought, both political parties hope to shape the political debate in this country.

Geographical Location: In our democracy not all votes are equal. A voter in a red-state like Kansas or a blue-state like Vermont is unlikely to have as much influence on the electoral college or the U.S. Senate as a voter in a "purple-state" like Florida, Ohio or Pennsylvania. In Presidential elections, a voter in a large state such as California or New York has more influence than a voter in a small state like Maine or Wyoming. Many of the more influential states including Pennsylvania has a disproportionate share of Jews sharing that power. 

You might be fed up with all the political ads you are getting. Who wants all of this attention from political groups? However, participating in the political process is an important civic duty. It is incumbent on us to study the issues being debated, determine the best candidate, and go out and vote on Tuesday, November 5.

Click for
Projected House election results updated daily by 

Open House

The upcoming House and Senate elections are perhaps the most hotly contested mid-term elections in recent history.  Democrats see this as a chance to reestablish checks and balances to an Administration run amuck. Republicans want to keep the President unfettered as he pursues his agenda.  

Typically, house districts are gerrymandered to ensure safe seats for incumbents. They are engineered with enough of an advantage so that the incumbent will win even with typical changes in vote sentiment. In order to dominate as many seats as possible, there is a temptation for political parties to cut this built-in advantage as thin as they can. However, in a year like this year when the tide has turned against the administration and the GOP controlled Congress. As a result, Democrats stand an excellent chance of overcoming their 29 seat deficit. As a result, prediction (political sentiment) markets currently project that Republicans have only a 40.6% to 43.9% chance of maintain their control of the House as of this writing.

Pennsylvania features not only a rematch of the squeaker between Jim Gerlach and Lois Murphy (6th district), but a number of other hotly contested races: Curt Weldon and Joe Sestak (7th district), Mike Fitzpatrick and Patrick Murphy (8th district), Don Sherwood and Chris Carney (10th district), and John Murtha and Diana Irey (12th district). 

Click for
Projected Senate election results updated daily by 
'M' Is For Must, Middle and Missouri

The Republican advantage in the Senate is on more reliable footing, Democrats have 44 Senators along with Democratic-leaning Independent (formerly Republican) Jim Jeffords of Vermont, while the Republicans have 55 Senators along with Vice-President Richard Cheney who has the authority to break ties. Since the Senate is renewed by thirds, only 33 seats are being contested this year: 17 currently held by Democrats, 15 currently held by Republicans along with the seat currently held by retired Vermont Senator Jim Jeffords.

To take control of the Senate, Democrats would need a net gain of 6 seats (presuming that independent candidate Bernie Sanders wins Jim Jeffords' seat in Vermont and continues to caucus with the Democrats as he does in the House).

Conversely, the GOP needs to win ten Senate races to keep control of the Senate. Wyoming, Arizona, Indiana, Maine, Nevada, Texas and Utah are basically in the bag for them. The gambling sites give the GOP a significant edge in Virginia (70% to 79% to retain) and Tennessee (60% to 65% to retain). They need just one more state to keep control of the Senate. Again, according to the gambling sites the next easiest race for them to win is Missouri where they have a 51% to 54% chance of winning. (After that is NJ with a 48% to 51% chance.)

By this standard Missouri is to 2006 as Florida was to 2000 and Ohio was to 2004. It is the middle state which might tip the Senate from Democratic to Republican control. Both parties view it as a must win. As part of a possible Republican "10 state strategy", the RJC has featured Senator Talent (R-MO) on their website as "RJC Featured Candidate". No wonder.

In the final analysis, Democrats can wrest control of the Senate from the Republicans by winning every seriously contended election. Any given battleground would not be so difficult, but taking the Senate would be like hitting the trifecta or pitching a no-hitter. The political sentiment markets only give the Democrats at 20.2% to 21.0% chance of doing that. The Democrats would have to play a flawless game, for once.

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