Jewish Republicans, Jewish Democrats Assess Meaning of Election Sweep by Reagan
Menu JTA Search

Jewish Republicans, Jewish Democrats Assess Meaning of Election Sweep by Reagan

Download PDF for this date

Jubilant Jewish Republicans hailed Ronald Reagan’s sweep to the Presidency in yesterday’s election while downcast Democrats, who considered the defeat of their standard bearer Jimmy Carter as not unexpected, were depressed by control of the U.S. Senate passing to the Republicans which come as a surprise.

Reagan’s victory statement, in which he said he was pledging “my sacred oath” to maintain his campaign commitments, was praised by Republican leaders as indicative of his all-out support for Israel’s security and sovereignty over unified Jerusalem, although some caution that the makeup of the Reagan Administration is unknown and commitments may be altered.

Theodore Cummings, the retired Los Angeles businessman who was regarded as the closest of Reagan’s Jewish friends, is understood to be the only Jew in the President-elect’s inner circle that will determine the makeup of Reagan’s transition team that will take over from the Carter Administration.

Cabinet selections will come late this month of early in December. Cummings has spoken with complete confidence that Reagan will maintain his consistent support for Israel’s security and its strategic importance to the United States.


Albert Spiegel, the Los Angeles lawyer who headed the Coalition for Reagan-Bush of which Cummings and Detroit’s Max Fisher were honorary cochairmen, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, “We are confident that Governor Reagan as President will fulfill his commitments to the people of the United States, including its Jewish community.

He added: “We are pleased Governor Reagan will give new direction to the country and that he had great support in the Jewish community for his compaign. The Jewish community made a significant contribution to his victory and has earned the right to be heard on matters of concern and interest to the Jewish community both in international and domestic affairs.”

In New York, industrialist George Klein, a national cochairman of the Coalition, pointed out to the JTA that Reagan had received the “highest percentage of the Jewish vote of any Republican Presidential candidate in history.” He attributed this to Reagan’s “strong pro-Israel position, ” his views on the national economy and military preparedness.

“A strong defense posture for the United States also is important for Israel,” Klein said. He noted Reagan’s promise of U.S. coproduction rights for Israel in its manufacture of weaponry for export that could mean Israel’s economic Survival.


A Democratic view was presented to the JTA by Alfred Moses, the Washington lawyer who serves as President Carter’s liaison with the Jewish community, and has been entrusted to work on some of the President’s most pressing problems. Moses told the JTA that it was too early to analyze the Jewish vote. However, he noted “there were defections among Jews as among all constituent groups” from the Democratic Party. “It is hard to say whether this is an aberration or a longer term trend,” he said.

Other comments included one from Jacob Stein, a former chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, who is a cochairman of the Reagan-Bush Coalition, along with industrialist Gordon Zocks, of Columbus, Ohio, and New York lawyer Maxwell Rabb.

While attending the Coalition’s celebration here last night, Stein told the JTA: “Reagan will stand behind his commitments to a strong and secure Israel. His Administration will regard Israel as a strategic asset, as a valued friend and a trusted ally.” Stein said that the Jewish community would “support his efforts to build a strong America and to work for peace.”

David Weinstein, director of the Republican National Committee’s Outreach Program, pointed out that if the Carter people “feel badly about Republicans getting control of the Senate, then the Democrats have learned a lesson that the Jewish vote cannot be taken for granted. “


Independent candidate John Anderson’s national coordinator for the Jewish community, Aaron Rosenbaum, estimated that 18-20 percent of the Jewish vote across the nation went to Anderson. He said that “this vote represented the very strong pro-Anderson sentiment off the basis of his positive record and pledges as well as anti-Carter feeling:”

Rosenbaum, who was research director for eight years of the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee before joining the Anderson campaign, said that the election results “clearly shows the Jewish vote cannot be taken for granted. The process since 1972 is that the Jewish vote is no longer a sure thing for Democrats.”

A sidelight on the gatherings of Democrats and Republicans in two major Washington hotels was the visit to both of them by Harry Hurwitz, the Israel Embassy’s Minister for Information. He told the JTA, “I saw friends in both headquarters and I conveyed our (Israel’s) congratulations to the people on the Reagan team.”

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund