Pollsters and pundits quoted in local media say Florida’s 650,000 Jewish voters could tip the scales in upcoming U.S. elections.
By World Israel News Staff
According to an extensive report in the Miami Herald, Jews in Florida are voting in large numbers, “raising hopes” that Joe Biden “can effectively end the 2020 race on election night with a decisive victory in the state.”
The Herald piece, titled “For Biden, Jewish voter turnout is key in Florida as race with Trump tightens,” states that 4.25 million Floridians had voted as of last Wednesday, with 45% of votes cast by Democrats, 34% by Republicans and 19% by independents, based on state collected data.
Biden officials are reportedly “optimistic” they will improve significantly on the performance of 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton among Florida’s Jewish voters, a bloc that is generally older and currently focused on the coronavirus pandemic.
While Florida’ approximately 650,000 Jews make up 5% of the state’s electorate, the Herald piece asserts that they could “tip the balance in a state where election margins are historically tight and Biden and President Donald Trump are just about tied in the polls.”
According to Democratic Rep. Lois Frankel, who represents the Palm Beach and West Palm Beach districts, voter turnout is “through the roof” among her voters.
“We’ve had over 156,000 already voted, and 90,000 of them are Democrats, 32,000-plus are Republican and the rest are no party. So that is a very large number of people who’ve already voted, probably more than half that we expect to show up,” Frankel told the Herald.
According to a poll from last week cited by the Herald, 73% of Florida Jews favor Biden, versus 67% who supported Clinton in October 2016. Trump’s support was at 22%, both currently and in the 2016 poll
“I do believe that there’s a hidden Trump vote in there among Jewish Americans,” said Boris Epshteyn, a strategic advisor to the Trump campaign and co-chair of Jewish Voices for Trump. According to Epshteyn, who said Trump could secure at least 35% of the Jewish vote, “There’s a hidden Trump vote nationally and more generally among Americans.”
While Israel has enjoyed unprecedented diplomatic victories during the Trump administration, including peace deals with three Arab states and the U.S.’ Jerusalem embassy move, the Herald report cites data indicating that domestic issues remain of primary importance to American Jews.
To that point, Epshteyn commented, “This president has been the greatest champion and friend to the state of Israel in the history of this country, and I would include Harry Truman in that, who recognized Israel in 1948.”
He added, “You look across all those achievements, and I’m telling you with full confidence that the Jewish American voter is going to come out for this president.”
Pollsters say voters see the election as a referendum on the president’s handling of the coronavirus crisis.
Among the other issues swaying Jewish voters is their perception of each candidates approach to the U.S.’s mounting anti-Semitism problem, which is rearing its head on both the far-left and far-right ends of the political spectrum.