Control of the US Senate is in the balance as Georgians get ready to vote in the January Senatorial run-offs. The entire nation will be watching. 

The vote was close with Perdue (R) getting 49.7% and Ossoff (D) 47.9%. In the wide open “jungle” race, Loeffler(R) got 25.9% and Warnock (D) 32.9%. In large part, the run-off will be decided by the turn-out.  

Therefore, motivating each party’s base will be key to winning in January. For the Democrats, this means the young and minorities (African Americans and Latinex) must vote in heavy numbers. Warnock being black may well motivates African American voters to come out in large numbers. 

But because of the closeness of the vote, it also means that one smaller minority group that’s always ignored in Georgia elections will play a major part – Georgia’s Jews. There are 128,720 Jews in Georgia with more than 75% being adults; only 8 states have a higher Jewish population. That means over 100,000 potential votes and Jewish participation in elections is traditionally higher than the average voter.  

Jews are more liberal (42%) than the average American (24%). Likewise, Jews are less conservative (20%) versus Americans as a whole (38%). Unsurprisingly, the Jewish vote traditionally goes to Democrats, with 51% of Jews saying they are Democrats. Only 17% indicate they are in the GOP. 

Here are the percentages of Jewish votes going to the Democratic candidate for the last several Presidential elections: 1992-80%; 1996-78%; 2000-79%; 2004-76%; 2008-78%; 2012- 69%; and 2016-71%. For 2020, the AP’s survey shows that only 68% of Jews voted for Biden, a lower percentage than any time in the last 30 years. 

The Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) is certainly going to continue its strident efforts to heavily market GOP senate candidates to the Jewish community. Georgian Bernie Marcus, co-founder of Home Depot, is on the RJC Board and an active donor to GOP causes. 

The RJC also conducted a national survey and found that among those rating Israel and foreign policy as their top issue, a key factor for very religious Jews, 87% voted for Trump. So, it is no surprise that they have been hitting Warnock and Ossoff particularly hard on this issue…even though Ossoff is Jewish. 

Surprisingly, the RJC has also chosen to ignore the fact that Perdue put out a clearly anti-Semitic ad (since pulled by Perdue after negative reaction). In it, Ossoff’s nose was artificially elongated. He was shown with Senator Schumer, also Jewish, with wording stating, “Democrats are trying to buy Georgia.” When contacted by this columnist about their reaction to this outrageous act, the RJC chose not to respond other than to acknowledge that they had received my email. 

The AP survey in Florida showed only 56% of Jews voted for Biden, significantly lower than the national percentage of 68%. Georgia specific figures are unavailable, but if the Jewish vote here is more like neighboring Florida’s vote, that could spell trouble for Democrats in January, especially if the Senate race is as close as it was in November. Loeffler is apparently aware of that and is running TV ads trying to tie Warnock to Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who has made controversial anti-Semitic statements.  

Loeffler recently tweeted – “@ReverendWarnock has a long history of anti-Israel extremism. He defended Jeremiah Wright’s anti-Semitic comments. He embraced the anti-Zionist BLM organization. And he thinks Israel is an “oppressive regime” for fighting back against terrorism. “  

Warnock responded “I’m not an anti-Semite. I’ve never defended anti-Semitic comments from anyone and Kelly Loeffler knows better,”  

If all eligible Jewish voters turn out, that could mean 12,000 more votes going toward Loeffler and Perdue … but only if Jewish voters are as positive about them as they were towards Trump in Florida. With Perdue’s clearly anti-Semitic ad and Loeffler trying to indict Warnock as an anti-Semite, the ultimate response of Jewish Georgians is a real question which will be answered in January.

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Image Credit: Composite image of Kelly Lynn Loeffler vs Raphael Gamaliel Warnock  – Thomas Jonathan Ossoff vs David Alfred Perdue Jr. from public domain and/creative commons sources.

Jack Bernard

Jack Bernard

Jack A Bernard is a retired SVP with a national healthcare corporation. He was Chair of the Jasper County, Ga Board of Commissioners and Republican Party. He was also on the Board of Health for Jasper County and is currently on the Fayette County BOH. Bernard has over 100 columns published annually, primarily in the South.