Republicans focus on Florida, where most Jews favor Obama

Electoral attention is focusing strongly on Florida, where a new survey shows President Barack Obama is the clear favorite among the state’s Jews, even as Republicans launch a media blitz to push Mitt Romney’s candidacy.

According to the American Jewish Committee survey, 69 percent of Florida Jews say they will likely vote for President Barack Obama, as opposed to 25 percent for Republican nominee Mitt Romney.

The survey ( revealed that concerns about the economy are uppermost in these voters’ minds, with 54 percent saying it’s the most important issue in deciding how they will vote. Another 16 percent cited health care as their top concern. A majority of respondents said they approved of the president’s handling of these issues — 64 percent in the case of the economy, and 69 percent when it came to health care.

Pictured here giving a speech in Jerusalem on Sept. 11, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been injecting himself into the U.S. presidential race, most recently in a Republican TV ad. photo/ap-gali tibbon

National security, U.S.-Israel relations, Social Security and abortion each were named by 5 percent of Florida Jews as their most important issue. Only 1 percent named the Iranian nuclear program as their top issue.

Even when asked about their second and third most important issues, Florida Jews prioritized domestic concerns. Only 9 percent cited Israel as their second most important issue, and 14 percent cited it as their third most important. Iran’s nuclear program was cited as the second most important issue by only 1 percent and third most important by only 2 percent.

Still, 79 percent said they were “very concerned” about the prospect of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons.

Most respondents said they approved of Obama’s handling of every issue on which they were queried and that they trusted Democrats more than Republicans to handle each issue. Obama received the highest approval on national security, health care, Social Security and abortion.

His levels of disapproval were highest on Iran’s nuclear program, U.S.-Israel relations and the economy, with 36 percent disapproving of his handling of the first issue, and 33 percent disapproving of his handling of the latter two issues.

Florida Jews gave low marks to Romney’s running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Was.), with 49 percent disapproving strongly and another 10 percent disapproving somewhat.

Of those who said they don’t know or are undecided how they would vote for president, half said they were leaning toward Obama and the other half repeated that they were undecided.

The survey, conducted by QEV Analytics, reached 254 registered Jewish voters in the key swing state between Sept. 7 and 9. The AJC did not divulge the survey’s margin of error.

Meanwhile, a television ad featuring Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warning against U.S. policy on Iran debuted in the state’s heavily Jewish markets on Sept. 20.

The ad, sponsored by the nonprofit advocacy group Secure America Now, features Netanyahu saying: “The fact is that every day that passes, Iran gets closer and closer to a nuclear bomb. The world tells Israel wait, there’s still time. And I say wait for what? Wait until when?” Set to a suspense thriller soundtrack, a voiceover warns at the end of the clip: “The world needs American strength, not apologies.”

The ad does not mention either Obama or Romney by name. An article in Politico cited a Republican involved in the campaign, who said the ad is airing in Miami, West Palm Beach and Fort Meyers.

Along with the Netanyahu ad, the Republican Jewish Coalition has launched a $5 million television advertising campaign aimed at Jewish voters in the swing states of Florida, Nevada, Ohio and Pennsylvania. The first ad to appear features disillusioned Obama voters engaging in “buyer’s remorse” over their 2008 presidential choice.