The table below provides a very clear picture of how Jews voted in past presidential elections – the majority always voted for Democratic candidates. However the world is changing quickly and the Jewish community is wondering how it will be affected by it.
When a synagogue is attacked in Copenhagen, or a Jewish grocery store is attacked in Paris, every Jewish community in America feels the pain and the thought of potential attacks on American Jewish institutions is surfacing. Jews are asking themselves could this happen here, and if so, which party (when in power) has a better chance of stopping it?
The very public ongoing confrontation between the head of the Jewish state, Benjamin Netanyahu, and the present Democratic American president, Barak Obama, brought the relationships between the two states to the lowest level in recent history. The American Jewish community is caught in the middle, trying to support the president which it overwhelmingly elected, while protecting the interests of their relatives who live in the Jewish state.
A desire for a safe environment at home and the feeling that the president and the Democratic party is throwing Israel under the wheels of the Iranian nuclear bus, may be enough to drive the Jewish community to vote into office a Republican president for the first time in almost 100 years.
Jews represents only 2% of the total US population. Why should the Jewish vote matter?
It matters for two reasons:
1. The Jewish population is concentrated in few key states (New York, California, Florida, Maryland, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Washington DC). The American presidential general election is an indirect election. American citizens in each state cast ballots for a slate of members of the U.S. Electoral College; these electors in turn directly elect the President and Vice President. Most state laws establish a winner-take-all system, wherein the ticket that wins the most votes in the state wins all of that state’s allocated electoral votes. Thus, the Jewish minority can tip the election one way or the other in those key states, which together represent approximately 30% of the total electoral college.
2. “The importance of the Jews isn’t their votes,” said Benjamin Ginsberg, a professor of political science at Johns Hopkins University. “They account for a huge share of the activist base of the Democratic Party and account for much of the money available to Democratic candidates. If you are a Republican strategist, it seems fairly obviously that if you can shift Jewish support even a little bit away from the Democrats, it makes the Democratic Party less competitive.” [theatlantic.com]
Until now, Jews supported the Democratic Party over the Republican Party by more than three-to-one: 70% say they are Democrats or lean toward the Democratic Party, while 22% are Republicans or lean Republican.
According to the Daily Forward online magazine, the reason for the overwhelming Jewish vote for the Democratic candidate lies not with shopping habits or ZIP codes, but rather with heritage and culture. Jews are not convinced that the poor deserve their fate. It is hard for Jews to vote for a political party that suggests that if a person does not have a medical care it is his own fault.
According to The Guardian, Jewish voters are Democratic for a reason. They believe in the party’s liberal ideology, and identify with its core values, and that despite the effort by the Republican party to allign itself with Israel, most American Jews don’t view Israel as essential to their political allegiances in the United States, and even if they did, they think Democratic policy is just fine. This is supported by a survey done in 2013 by the Pew Research Center that concluded that only about four-in-ten say that caring about Israel (43%) is essential to their Jewish identity.
The problem with predicting the future based on past results is that it doesn’t take into account new information. The effect of radical Islamic global movements such as ISIS on Jewish political preference, hasn’t been studied yet.
Barak Obama made a concentrated effort to improve relations with elements in the Arab world who are hostile to Israel and to the Jewish people in general. Most of the Democratic party went along with this approach including Ms. Clinton, who is presently the leading Democratic presidential candidate. Actions like supporting the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, trying to force Israel into a bad cease fire agreement with Hamas, negotiating a questionable nuclear deal with Iran, are just few examples of the changing US policy in the Middle East under the leadership of the Democrats.
Under these circumstances it won’t be surprising to see a lot more Jews voting for a republican president this coming election,. If they do, it will be because they don’t feel protected anymore under the umbrella of the minority oriented Democratic party.
Overall Jewish support for the Democratic party is in decline: In the 2006 midterm elections, 87 percent of Jews voted for Democratic candidates for the House of Representatives. In the 2014 midterm elections, 66 percent cast ballots for Democrats. That’s a 21-point drop in eight years. This trend may be accelerating in the next election, enough to tip the election in favor of a republican candidate.
|PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION||% of JEWISH Voter||% of Total American Voter||
|Obama (D)||69||51||Obama – Democrat|
|Obama (D)||78||53||Obama – Democrat|
|2004||Bush (R)||24||51||Bush – Republican|
|2000||Bush (R)||19||48||Bush – Republican|
|Clinton (D)||78||49||Clinton – Democrat|
|Clinton (D)||80||43||Clinton – Democrat|
|1988||Bush (R)||35||53||Bush – Republican|
|1984||Reagan (R)||31||59||Reagan – Republican|
|1980||Reagan (R)||39||51||Reagan – Republican|