U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (VT), candidate for the Democratic Party nomination for the 2016 race for POTUS, won big in Michigan last Tuesday. Sanders received nearly 70% of the vote from Arab-Americans and Muslim-Americans, centered in East Dearborn and the Detroit area. The Arab American News endorsed Senator Sanders; and Sanders’ campaign ran radio ads in Arabic. Prior to the primary, he was introduced at a rally by U.S. Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN), the first Muslim American elected to Congress.
One can say he won the “Arab Super Tuesday.”
In Michigan, Sanders’ speeches focused on job creation, corruption, police brutality, diversity, GOP candidate antagonism and racism, and the Flint water crisis.
But this Tuesday, one wonders how he will perform in the “Jewish Super Tuesday” in Florida, Ohio, and Illinois.
Florida is home (at least in Winter) to over 630,000 adults who identify as Jewish; and most are registered voters with time to go to the polls. Illinois is the base for over 300,000 Jews, and Ohio is a haven for over 148,000 synagogue attendees.
Steve Rabinowitz, a Washington, DC based Jewish Democratic political consultant told The Washington Post that “Bernie Sanders isn’t getting any extra Jewish votes because of his own Judaism. Many, many Jews are very proud that Sanders has done so well — and it’s not generating any extra votes.”
Rabinowitz, who once worked in the Clinton administration and co-founded “Jewish Americans Ready for Hillary,” said (impartially, of course) that it is an age game. “All the Jews over forty are with Hillary Clinton. They just are. We just are… We like Hillary Clinton. We’ve known her well for many, many years. We’ve worked with her. There’s a tremendous comfort level. Bernie Sanders? Eh, don’t know him so well. Like him. Excited for him. Proud about his success. But we’re with the other guy.”
A few weeks ago, the Clinton campaign hired Sarah Bard to lead its efforts with Jewish voters. Bard, a daughter of a Boston area rabbi, led the Jewish Leadership (fundraising) Council during Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign; worked for the Democratic National Committee, as an aide to Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D, FL); and was a leader at the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington’s Young Leadership Division.
The Washington Post reached out to Steven Windmueller, a professor at the Los Angeles campus of Hebrew Union College who has tried to find good data on Jewish support in 2016. He said, “The Sanders [Jewish] identity issue doesn’t seem to be a factor one way or the other. My perception is that he’s trailing Secretary Clinton. If I had to make a guess here, I would guess she is receiving overwhelmingly the support of the Jewish community.”
Will Florida’s Jews feel the Bern as much as Yemeni-, Egyptian-, Syrian-, and other Arab-Americans did in Michigan?
Ask me Wednesday.