For forty years, Republican operatives have been consistently frustrated in their energetic and well-funded efforts to win the support of Jewish voters for their presidential candidates. Looking toward the first battle of the post-Obama era in 2016, battered conservative activists might take encouragement and inspiration from the surprising success of their Jewish counterparts north of the border.
In the Canadian elections of May 2011, the most recent national balloting, Jewish Canadians decisively deserted their traditional home in the center-left Liberal Party and migrated en masse to Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s resurgent Conservative Party. For the first time, a majority of Jews (52 percent, according to an Ipsos-Reid exit poll) cast their ballots for the Tories, while less than half that figure (24 percent) remained loyal to the Liberals. The rest of the Jewish votes went to the far left, labor-dominated New Democratic Party (16 percent) or split among a number of minor or regional parties. Harper won a clear majority of the Canadian Parliament and a decisive plurality of the popular vote, beating the runner-up NDP by nearly 10 percentage points. Remarkably, the Conservatives proved far more popular among Canadian Jews than they did with the population in general. Harper’s party won the Jewish vote with a majority virtually identical to its performance among Protestants, while the Tories lost decisively among Catholics and the 17 percent with “no religious identity.” Harper’s unprecedented success proved so striking that it led Toronto’s right-leaning National Post to think the unthinkable with a headlined commentary at the height of the U.S. presidential campaign of 2012: “Will American Jews Follow the Example of Their Neighbors to the North?”