With the Nov. 4 election quickly creeping up on the two candidates, both parties believe that perhaps the only way to move into the White House is to capture victory in Pennsylvania.
Smack-dab in the center of the race are the Jewish voters. With the latest Gallop poll stating that 75 percent of Jews will back the Barack Obama-Joe Biden ticket, it seems that the Jewish trend of voting Democratic will still be intact.
“If these numbers hold up it’s going to be near impossible for him (Sen. John McCain) to win in PA,” said Ira Foreman, executive director of the National Jewish Democratic Council. “Pennsylvania is solidly Democratic.”
However, McCain’s campaign is refusing to go down without a fight. The Republican Jewish Coalition will be focusing on the key Jewish areas in Pennsylvania, hoping to sway voters to McCain.
The key areas that both parties are focused on are five key counties surrounding the city of Philadelphia, which have been primarily Republican.
“Those have historically been very Republican counties,” said state Rep. Dan Frankel (D-Squirrel Hill). “What we have seen in recent elections at the presidential level, U.S. Senate and most significantly in local elections, we’ve seen a steady trend of those counties turning blue. I expect that Obama will win in a very significant way in the suburban area of Philadelphia. He will come out with a strong majority. We know he’ll win in Philadelphia, I expect him to win by historical proportions.”
State representative Josh Shapiro is a Democrat who represents Montgomery County, one of the five key counties being fought over, says that he expects Obama to win by a large margin.
“We are poised to give Barack Obama a big victory here,” he said. “In those counties he will put up big numbers and will carry the state.”
The RJC has launched its ad campaign, “Concerned About Obama: You Should Be,” in several key areas around the state, including Pittsburgh.
RJC Press Secretary Suzanne Kurtz said that the new campaign will focus on television time throughout the area, and will run up until election night.
While the latest poll shows Obama has the Jewish edge, he hasn’t had the same support as past candidates, Kurtz said.
“The Jewish community is not supporting the Democratic candidate like they have in past presidential elections,” she said. “Obama has been polling significantly lower than any other candidate in the last few cycles.”
Frankel said that while there might have been concerns early about McCain’s effect on the Jewish community, he believes Obama will have little opposition.
“I think there had been some concern initially that there was a possibility that the Republican ticket could make inroads into the Jewish community,” he said. “I’m confident that there will be a significant portion of the Jewish vote that will go toward Obama-Biden.
“My sense is that the Jewish community is overwhelmingly supporting the Obama-Biden ticket,” he continued. “There is genuine excitement and
Not to count McCain out of the race, several prominent Republicans have been touring throughout Pennsylvania in hoping to get some last-minute support for the Arizona senator.
Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle was in town Tuesday to speak at Rodef Shalom Congregation. Before her speech, she spoke with The Chronicle about the positives McCain would bring to the office of the presidency.
“I’ve been going around Jewish communities all over the country and letting people know why I believe they are the best team to lead the country for the next four years,” she said. “Sen. McCain has a long history of bipartisanship, working with both parties. That is something no other candidate has.”
Lingle was made aware of the recent e-mail sent to 75,000 Jewish voters in the state, however, had not actually seen it herself.
“I think on both sides there is a lot of stuff that goes around the Internet and not much is really helpful to people,” she said. “The priority issues are the country’s security and then the economy.”
Lingle will continue to be on the move throughout the next few days, continuing to speak on behalf of McCain. In her home state of Hawaii, she hasn’t counted McCain out of the race, but because it is where Obama went to school, she knows there’s a lot of pride within.
“I think he (Obama) will do well in Hawaii because there is pride that he went to school there,” she said. “There are a lot of veterans there so McCain could do well too. I think that large military population will help him.”
(Mike Zoller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)