When the Post reported earlier this week that certain Jewish donors were shunning Mitt Romney because they mistakenly believed that Michele Bachmann is Jewish, we found the story barely credible. Neither did a Jewish member of Mitt Romney's finance team, Mel Sembler. As he tells the Washington Post's Erik Wemple:
“I do interface with a lot of Jewish Republicans, and I have yet to hear a single Republican” mention any Bachmann–Romney Jewish confusion theme.
Wemple himself has been busy searching for these shockingly oblivious Jewish donors. He talked to one Jewish Bachmann donor, a dermatologist in New Jersey, who insisted he harbored no misconceptions about Bachmann's faith. Another suspect turned out to not be Jewish.
Meanwhile, we've been doing some digging of our own. Like all candidates, Bachmann has to disclose to the FEC any donors who contributed $250 or more to her campaign. This file is available to the public on the FEC website, and it includes donors' first and last names, locations, and sometimes their occupations. We scanned almost the entire list, picked out the most blatantly Jewish-sounding names, and tried to find contact information online.
As you might imagine, this was a delicate task. For whatever reason, Jews are kind of paranoid about being singled out, and we were blatantly religiously profiling these people based on their names, and sometimes even their professions. (A retired Meyer that lives in Oklahoma ... maybe. A Meyer who works as an accountant in Westchester ... almost definitely.) So we chose e-mailing over the more intrusive phone call, kept things light and non-threatening, and also made sure to assure them that, our own last name notwithstanding, we were full-blown members of The Tribe.
After sending out eight e-mails to our most promising and easily contactable Jews, we heard back from four, who were all, in fact, Jews, but none of who claimed to be misinformed about Bachmann's religion. Instead, they all seemed to have gravitated toward Bachmann for the same reasons as non-Jewish Bachmann supporters — namely, socialism.
There was the engineer who said he donated to Bachmann "because she is a fiscal conservative." There was the scientist who thinks Bachmann is "a strong proponent of individual rights and capitalism," unlike the Democratic Party, which is "destroying our free society and pushing the U.S. on the road to widespread misery and eventual dictatorship." There was the veterinary clinic employee who lamented that "there are many American Jews who are more dedicated to socialist policies than to a candidate who will stand by Israel." And finally, the college professor who stated, simply, "This claim is nonsense."
Our failed quest to find a confused Jewish Bachmann-contributor was hardly exhaustive, but he's probably right.