Friday, May 03, 2002

Jews Backing Bush

The estimable Deborah Orin has a good column today about President Bush's surprising popularity among New York's Jewish voters. She reports that some Democrats are worried that Jewish support for Bush might enable him to carry the state in 2004 (New York Jews voted Gore 80%-20% in 2000 and Gore won the state in an uncontested landslide).

I don't think Bush can or will carry New York in 2004, but that's not the point. The point is that Bush's new-found popularity among Jewish voters has important implications in Florida. It is axiomatic that a Republican presidential candidate cannot win unless he or she carries at least two of the big three Sunbelt states (FL, TX and CA). Bush has Texas locked down. He faces an uphill fight in California. So Florida is the key.

I don't have the 2000 Exit Poll book in front of me, but if memory serves, roughly 10% of the Florida electorate is Jewish. Should Bush split the Florida Jewish vote in 2004, instead of losing it by a roughly 4-1 margin, he would become all but impossible to beat in the Sunshine State. The evaporation of three full percentage points of Democratic base vote in Florida would doom whomever the Democrats eventually nominate. All of which argues for Senator Lieberman continuing as Al Gore's running-mate in 2004.