Jewish vote could make an impact in the Sixth District
By Vlada Galan
The city of Atlanta and its surrounding suburbs are known for their diversity and blend of cultures, which span nearly every ethnicity and background. Out of Georgia's 14 congressional districts, the 6th district is far from the most diverse. However, some statistics may be of interest now that the district is facing a very close run-off election. For example, many people may not be aware that the 6th district has the largest Jewish population of any Georgia congressional district. With the hotly contested run off on the horizon in June, it will be interesting to see how the 8% Jewish population in the district may affect the outcome.
Nearly half of the Metro Atlanta Jewish population lives in the 6th district. However, the community is not a political monolith. The 6th district houses a large population of Orthodox Jews. The Orthodox community tends to support conservative candidates. On the flip side, the Jewish vote nationwide tends to swing 75% Democratic and only 25% Republican. Democrat John Ossoff, a Reform Jew, might be an appealing candidate for some in the Jewish community, but is likely too liberal for the Orthodox Jewish population.
Ossoff was raised in a Reform Jewish synagogue, The Temple. Ossoff’s liberal views and reform background will likely not receive a nod of approval from the Orthodox community. Ossoff didn’t seem to embrace nor shy away from his Jewish roots in the primary, and has wasted no time in buying up advertising space in The Atlanta Jewish Times in the run off, where he has purchased a weekly ad. And while some Jews in the district may support Ossoff due to longstanding Democratic ties, others have taken a stand for candidate Karen Handel.
Karen Handel has secured the support of at least a portion of the Jewish community that sways Republican. For example, she is supported by the Republican Jewish Coalition and its former leader, Chuck Berk. Recent polls show that the election is a much closer race then most anticipated in the heavily Republican district.
In an election such as this one, every vote truly counts. With the Jewish population accounting for 8% of the district, Republicans are pushing harder than ever for Jewish support for their candidate. Last week, Chuck Berk personally wrote a column in The Atlanta Jewish Times on why the community should rally behind Karen Handel. Looking at the possibility for a low voter turnout election, the thousands of votes that the Jewish community can yield will be crucial for any candidate hoping to secure victory in June
Karen Handel trends upward among the 55 and over population in recent polling. zpolitics asked Republican strategist and pollster George Birnbaum his thoughts on these trends.
“This bodes well for Handel, because as a general rule the older the population the higher the rate of turn out on election day. This is especially true in special elections,” stated Birnbaum.
Birnbaum also believes that Ossoff will be able to win over 80% of the Jewish vote. It seems that in a close election, the Jewish vote could very well make a real difference in the 6th district. Birnbaum is the former chief of staff to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a resident of the Georgia’s 6th Congressional District, and a member of the Jewish community.
The anticipation continues to build as we all await the nail biting results of this special election. One thing is for certain, Republicans will not be going anywhere without a fight for every vote, and will not cede the Jewish vote to Ossoff.
Vlada Galan is an international political consultant helping conservative politicians get elected throughout the world. A native of Odessa, Ukraine Vlada currently resides in Atlanta, Georgia where she has worked on several state wide races. Vlada may be contacted at VladaGalan@gmail.com.