Nowhere are the stakes higher than South Florida, home to 490,000 Jews who make up a voting bloc powerful enough to influence national elections. Though a small percentage of the overall population, Jews vote at a higher rate than virtually every other slice of the electorate.
Leading local Republicans say capturing a bigger chunk than ever of the Florida's Jewish vote is within their reach. "Obama's lost a lot of the Jewish support," said Jeff Rubinoff, president of the Davie-Cooper City Republican Club. "A lot more people are starting to come over. They're beginning to recognize Obama's anti-Israel stance."
Even some Democrats concede that support for the president has softened among the state's Jews, perhaps to a critical degree.
"Florida is up for grabs right now. The Jewish population is not overly enthused by Obama," said Andre Fladell, a longtime Jewish Democratic activist in Delray Beach. "If that vote becomes unenthusiastic, the election goes the other way."
Kleig lights will shine on the parties' competing efforts to court American Jewish voters starting Sunday in Washington when Obama speaks to the big-pro Israel lobby, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appears at AIPAC on Monday.
On Tuesday, the mic at AIPAC goes to rival Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich.
Also scheduled this week: a White House sit-down between Obama and Netanyahu, which will be sliced and diced by both political parties as a barometer of the state of U.S.-Israeli relations under Obama.
Republicans and Democrats are already active on numerous other fronts:
Seeking to inoculate the president from Republican attacks, the Democratic Party distributed an Internet video last week that included a clip of Netanyahu praising Obama's commitment to Israel's security, a key concern for many American Jews in light of Iran's ongoing nuclear program.
In Florida and beyond, U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston, has been visiting Jewish communities, penning articles in Jewish publications and taking to Twitter to diffuse Republican claims that the president, as the Republican catchphrase goes, has "thrown Israel under the bus." As chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, the 45-year-old Jewish South Floridian is one of Obama's top emissaries to the Jewish community.
The Obama campaign also has been distributing campaign literature touting the president's commitment to Israel and has created a "Jewish Americans for Obama" web page.
On the other side, the Republican Jewish Coalition issued its own video two weeks ago highlighting "the disconnect between President Obama's rhetoric about his support for Israel's security and his actions."
And eminent Florida Jewish Republicans like Sid Dinerstein are out in force. Chairman of the Palm Beach County Republican Party, Dinerstein speaks to Jewish voters whenever he can. One of his key tactical goals: setting up beachheads in the retiree-heavy condominium communities in the county's western suburbs where many Jewish seniors live. In early February, he helped gin up support at the new Ronald Reagan Club at Valencia Palms west of Delray Beach.
Dinerstein's Republican counterparts in Broward are doing the same, and launched a Jewish outreach effort last year. There's an active Republican club at Wynmoor Village, the retiree-heavy condominium community in Coconut Creek that's home to many Jewish residents.
The No 1. argument between Jewish Republicans and Democrats is about Israel, especially what kind of security guarantees for the Jewish state should come as part of any regional Mideast peace negotiations, and the potential threat from Iran's suspected efforts to develop a nuclear bomb. Republicans claim the president hasn't done enough to support and protect America's only friend in the Middle East.
"I don't like the way Obama is treating Israel," said Beverly Asnien, a retired teacher from Wellington who said she feels no loyalty to either party. "I'm not that satisfied with the Republicans, but I would vote for Romney in lieu of Obama. And I don't think I'm the only one who feels this way."
Lenore Wachtel, 72, a Boca Raton Democrat, backs Obama, but says she understands why some of her friends don't anymore.