On the surface, the Republican Jewish Coalition has been a good soldier this election. Officially, the group supports its party’s nominee for president, Donald Trump, despite his overwhelming unpopularity among nearly every Jewish conservative intellectual of note. But if one follows the money, as JTA’s Ben Sales has, it tells a very different story.
“A JTA survey of federal campaign contribution records shows that more than 80 percent of the RJC board has declined to donate to its party’s presidential nominee,” reported Sales. “The numbers stand in stark contrast to previous election cycles. In 2012 and 2008, the vast majority of the current board members donated to Mitt Romney and John McCain, respectively, with many giving the maximum direct donation of $5,000.”
In a nutshell, whereas 87 percent of the board’s active donors backed Romney and McCain with their wallets, 81 percent have refused to back Trump, an astonishing and revealing reversal. Notably, Sales finds, many of these same donors who spurned Trump have readily donated to Republican congressional campaigns, making quite clear the specific source of their distaste.
Sales’s reporting is consistent with previous work by The Wall Street Journal and Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight, which both found that traditionally stalwart Republican Jewish donors were cutting off Trump. In May, WSJ found that while “Republican Jewish Coalition board members gave $16.5 million to Romney in 2012… They gave $5400 to Trump through May.” In September, an analysis by two political science professors in FiveThirtyEight determined that while 70 percent of Jewish donor cash went to Obama in 2012, 95 percent has gone to Clinton in 2016, due to conservative Jewish donors rejecting Trump.
In this regard, Sheldon Adelson, who has given $30 million to the Trump campaign, is essentially the exception that proves the rule (and even he has fallen far short of the $100 million he originally promised).
The RJC board’s telling cold shoulder to Trump’s campaign coffers is yet another example of how many Jewish conservatives have marshaled resistance to the Republican nominee, despite some ill-informed claims to the contrary.