Is Ryan hurting Romney with the Jewish vote?

October 13, 2012

I discuss the Paul Ryan question in some detail in my new book, The Jewish Vote – get it here as an ebook, or here in softcover – but Thursday’s debate could add another dimension to discussions on this question. At the end of the debate, both Ryan and Joe Biden were asked to comment on abortion policy. Not exactly the most important issue of this election season, but one that could be highly sensitive for Jewish voters. Here’s what they said:

Ryan: …I understand this is a difficult issue, and I respect people who don't agree with me on this, but the policy of a Romney administration will be to oppose abortions with the exceptions for rape, incest and life of the mother…

Biden: …I refuse to impose it on equally devout Christians and Muslims and Jews, and I just refuse to impose that on others, unlike my friend here, the – the congressman. I – I do not believe that we have a right to tell other people that – women they can't control their body. It's a decision between them and their doctor. In my view and the Supreme Court, I'm not going to interfere with that…

Here’s a paragraph from on abortion from The Jewish Vote, to which one can now add the Ryan factor:

Abortion is an issue on which Jewish voters have the most permissive views in the nation. “About twice as many Jews as other Americans believe that abortion should be legal in all cases”. Forty-five percent believe abortion should be legal in “all” cases, and another 44% believe it should be legal in “most” cases (leaving very few anti-abortion Jewish voters). Should Romney be considered a candidate who is unacceptable because of his views on abortion? That depends on the extent to which one takes seriously the candidate’s party platform (staunchly anti-abortion), the candidate’s campaign-tailored position (“I'm in favor of abortion being legal in the case of rape and incest, and the health and life of the mother”), Romney’s sister assurances (“He’s not going to be touching any of that.”), or Romney’s past statements – the ones he was making while running for governor of the blue state of Massachusetts (“I will preserve and protect a woman’s right to choose”).

So, does Ryan hurt Romney with the Jewish vote? Did his answer on abortion hurt Romney? It is a trickier question to answer than you might think, as my book demonstrates.

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