CRP Blog

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Building a Republican Majority: Progress in California's Jewish Communities

Republicans in California are determined to build, over time, a lasting Republican majority in California. Achieving this goal requires our party to build coalitions with many of the voter groups that have not traditionally, or recently, supported Republican candidates.

The Republican National Hispanic Assembly, California Black Republican Council, and Asian American Republican groups, among others, are all central to these efforts.

Building Republican support among California's one million Jewish voters is the chief responsibility of the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC), which has taken on this mission with extreme seriousness, and is demonstrating undeniable success.

California's RJC membership has grown from 1,500 to over 8,500 in the last several years, and is increasingly active in local campaigns and county Republican committees through their 10 chapters throughout the state.

Nationally, the Republican share of the Jewish vote has grown significantly in recent years, from a low of 10% in 1992 to 16% in 1996, to 19% in 2000, to 25% in 2004. In his re-election campaign last year, Governor Schwarzenegger garnered almost 50% support from Jewish voters. Demographically, Jewish men under 40 years old are now roughly evenly split among Republicans and Democrats.

Why the success? Part of it is organizational, with the RJC and its allies reaching into synagogues and community centers where Democrats used to hold a monopoly. Part is issue-driven, as the strong anti-terror policies and support for Israel by the Bush Administration has resonated with Jewish voters whose allegiance to the Democrats has been in decline.

In California, Republican Assemblyman Joel Anderson's Iran Divestiture bill has caught the acute attention of Jewish leaders. When I met with former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday night, he instantly raised the issue of Assemblyman Anderson's bill the moment I mentioned California. Divesting California's pension funds from Iran improves the security of those funds, and helps in aiding the Global War on Terror. Iran is the chief sponsor of Hezbollah, Israel's primary threat from the north.

Meanwhile, Democrats continue with their missteps in alienating Jewish voters, most recently with Nancy Pelosi's visit to Syria and associated assertion that Democrats should have their own, "independent" foreign policy. Jimmy Carter didn't do his party any favors when he claimed Israel's policies are worse than apartheid in South Africa. Six former ambassadors have called on Carter to step down as the Honorary Chair of Democrats Abroad. (Article)

Domestically, Republican policies of economic growth, plus school choice and competition, increasingly resonate with Jewish voters, while the radical left's call for sanctions and divestiture from Israel continues to drive many to reconsider their partisan allegiance.

While growth in this important community will take time, the trend is unmistakable. Among elected officials, Democrats like Barbara Boxer are the past, while Republicans like Steve Poizner are the future.

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