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Many eyes on Arizona Jewish voters ahead of US presidential election

American Jewish voters concerned about Jew-hatred and the Democratic Party’s progressive wing “may be on the move,” said Steven Windmueller of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.

Arizona car with Donald Trump license plate, May 2024. Photo by Masada Siegel.
Arizona car with Donald Trump license plate, May 2024. Photo by Masada Siegel.

In the months since Hamas attacked Jewish communities in southern Israel on Oct. 7, Lisa Flader has been surprised by certain groups that she supported, whose logos she has used temporarily as her social-media profile picture, that have not stood up for Jews.

“I don’t feel represented,” the stay-at-home mom in Phoenix, Ariz., told JNS. “I’m feeling conflicted about the current political landscape and how it aligns with my values as a Jew.”

The 46-year-old, who is socially liberal, is finding it difficult to find reflections of all her values in a candidate. “I do not feel the Democratic Party is aligned with my views as a Jew after Oct. 7,” she told JNS. “I’m shocked that in 2024, this is what we have to choose from. I don’t like any option, and I don’t even like the independent options.”

Flager said she would never vote for former president Donald Trump, but she also doesn’t know that she could vote for U.S. President Joe Biden. She is one of many Jews who are reportedly feeling politically homeless since Oct. 7, amid surging Jew-hatred stateside and overseas.

Likely voters in Arizona prefer Trump to Biden by a margin of 49% to 43%, according to a poll conducted between April 28 and May 9 by The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer and Siena College.

In 2020, Biden won the state by 10,457 votes or .3% of the 3,387,326 votes cast. It was only the second time since 1952 that a Democrat carried the state after Democratic Bill Clinton beat out Republican Bob Dole in 1996 by 2.2% of 1,404,405 cast votes.

There were about 115,000 Jewish adults in Arizona—2.1% of the state’s electorate—in 2020, according to the American Jewish Population Project at Brandeis University’s Steinhardt Social Research Institute. The project found that Arizona Jews were likelier to identify as or lean Democrat (55%) as opposed to Republican (39%).

Adam Kwasman, co-chair of the Republican Jewish Coalition’s Arizona chapter and a former state representative, told JNS that there are 85,000 Jewish voters in the Grand Canyon State and predicted that Arizona Jews will decide whether Biden or Trump will win the state in November.

“In 2020, the margin of victory was 0.3% or fewer than 11,000 votes statewide,” he said. “With over 85,000 Arizona voters, the Jewish community will make the decisive difference in this key battleground state.”

The RJC is investing “significant” manpower and resources to attempt to do just that.

“We can shift Arizona back to the red column through Jewish mobilization alone,” Kwasman told JNS. “A mere 10% shift in Jewish voting behavior wins the state.”

Adam Kwasman
Adam Kwasman. Credit: Courtesy.

Steven Windmueller, professor emeritus of Jewish communal studies at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles, told JNS that a good number of Arizona voters are supporting third-party candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr., and younger voters tend to register as independents.

“Based on the polls we have of this age cohort, we are likely to see a significant group of these voters either not voting or electing to vote third party,” said Windmueller, who lectures on the political behavior of U.S. Jews.

‘Won’t take Jewish vote for granted’

Conor O’Callaghan, a Democrat, is running in Arizona’s First Congressional District against Rep. David Schweikert (R-Ariz.). Schweikert previously represented the state’s 6th Congressional District, which has the largest number of Jews (40,000) of any Arizona district, per the American Jewish Population Project. The 1st Congressional District had less than 10,000 Jews, as of 2020.

O’Callaghan was the only non-Jewish candidate in the primary to attend an Oct. 9 vigil at the Valley of the Sun JCC in Scottsdale, according to his campaign’s communications director Matt Grodsky.

“We will not take the Jewish vote for granted,” Grodsky told JNS. “Whether it’s running ads in Jewish news, speaking with active voices in the Jewish community or being thorough in our policy positions, our campaign has striven to intentionally cultivate this important vote since day one.”

No matter what happens in other races, Jewish voters in the 1st District “know they have an ally in Conor O’Callaghan,” he added.

As of March 31, the most recent public data from the Federal Election Commission, Schweikert has outraised O’Callaghan by nearly $2.1 million to $1.9 million, although O’Callaghan had about $10,000 more cash on hand.

Windmueller told JNS that there will be voters in November, including American Jews, who will “hold their nose” to vote for Trump.

“Part of this is a reaction on the part of liberal and moderate Jewish Democrats to a feeling of ‘politically homeless,’” he said. “Concerned about the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, worried about the growing antisemitism in this nation and uncertain about a second Biden term, these voters may be on the move.”

Susan Bondy, 76, of Scottsdale, Ariz., and Traverse City, Mich., is already sold on the former president. “I am a Trump fan,” the retired syndicated financial columnist told JNS. “He is a person who understands the world and can’t be bought. He is not afraid of the left and makes good economic decisions for the country.”

Bondy, who has met Trump, thinks he is good for Israel, “despite the fact that more than half the Jewish people will not vote for him.

“He has always been supportive of Israel and understands the neighborhood and what Israel is up against,” she said. “He’s got the backbone and is the only one who moved the embassy to Jerusalem; Trump cannot be pressured.”

She added that “he is the bravest man I think I have met.”

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