Every election, Republicans make the same claims that they will win a larger share of the Jewish vote—despite being consistently proved wrong by exit polls. This year’s election is shaping up to be no different—despite the fact that polling has consistently shown President Barack Obama to be well ahead of Mitt Romney among Jewish voters.
Now, a new historical survey by the nonpartisan Solomon Project has once again poured cold water on Republican hopes.
Charles Mahtesian of Politico wrote:
Do Republicans really have a shot at winning a sizable share of the Jewish vote in November?
From the beginning of the GOP presidential primary season to Mitt Romney’s upcoming visit to Israel, Republicans have acted that way, convinced that unease over Obama’s policy toward Israel presents a unique opportunity to capture a significant portion of a historically Democratic constituency.
While a September 2011 New York congressional special election helped fuel those expectations, a comprehensive new report from the Solomon Project, a non-partisan group that works to educate the American Jewish community about its history of civic involvement, underscores just how difficult the task will be for Republicans.
The report, first obtained by POLITICO, offers an in-depth review of Jewish American voting behavior from 1972 through 2008 that downplays the notion that the Jewish vote is in play. Instead, it points to the remarkable consistency in presidential preferences since 1984.
In fact, since 1992 Jewish support for Democratic presidential candidates has increased compared to prior decades, with no evidence of significant gains for Republicans.
At the congressional level, the report concludes, the Jewish vote for Democrats has never dropped below 70 percent.
In reading the study, David Lauter of the Los Angeles Times found that Jewish support for Democratic candidates has steadily risen over the past 20 years, with President Barack Obama receiving a higher percentage than any Democratic nominee between 1972 and 1988. Lauter wrote:
During the 16 years from Richard Nixon’s reelection in 1972 through the end of Ronald Reagan’s presidency in 1988, Republican presidential candidates garnered between 31% and 37% of Jewish votes, the authors found by analyzing years of election-day exit polls. But starting with Bill Clinton’s election in 1992, Jewish support for the GOP dropped sharply and has stayed low, ranging from 15% to 23% of the total.
Barack Obama took 74% of Jewish votes in 2008 compared to 23% for Arizona Sen. John McCain. Obama’s total was 3 percentage points less than Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry’s in 2004, but more than any Democratic presidential candidate from 1972-1988.
While socially conservative Orthodox Jews have trended toward the red column and the GOP presidential field has been warmly received by the Israel-centric Republican Jewish Coalition, the analysis confirms that most American Jews not only have remained Democrats but have voted with the party more in recent years. According to the report, in the 1970s and 1980s, Republicans attracted between 31 percent and 37 percent of the Jewish vote. Since then, however, the GOP has attracted only 15 percent to 23 percent, with Democratic congressional candidates winning even higher shares of the Jewish electorate.
‘Every presidential election we hear predictions that Jewish voters are becoming more Republican,’ said University of Florida political scientist Kenneth Wald, a co-author of the report and contributor to the book, ‘Jews in American Politics.’ ‘This analysis shows that, election after election, those predictions have yet to be proven true. I don’t expect the election between President Obama and Governor Romney to be any different.’
After examining the study, Chemi Shalev of Haaretz reported that the Solomon Project concluded several reasons for the continued Democratic gains among Jewish voters, including the growing influence of the radical evangelical movement in the Republican Party. Shalev reported:
And while conventional wisdom holds that the meager 15% of the vote that George Bush Sr received in 1992 was mainly the outcome of his harsh confrontation with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir over loan guarantees, the study points to a different explanation: the increased influence of the Christian Right on the Republican Party, which first became pronounced in the early 1990’s. In fact, Mellman and his colleagues believe that the same Jewish suspicion of religiosity in the political arena - and not his attitude towards Israel - was probably the main factor that turned Jewish voters away from the deeply religious and evangelical Democratic President Jimmy Carter, not only in the 1980 elections against Ronald Reagan following the Iran hostage crisis, in which Carter garnered only 44% of the Jewish vote, but in the 1976 elections as well, before his perceived animosity towards Israel was known, in which Carter received 64% of the Jewish vote.
According to the study, Jewish women are significantly more likely to vote for Democrats than men, a trend that holds true for the general population as well; contrary to the general trend, however, older Jews are more likely to vote for Democrats than younger Jewish voters. Unmarried Jews are more likely to vote Democratic, but synagogue attenders vote for Republicans in higher numbers than their unaffiliated co-religionists. Educated Jewish voters are more Democratic than non-educated Jews, with the greatest divergence occurring in the 2008 elections, in which Obama got 14% more votes from educated Jews than from non-educated voters.
Interestingly, Jewish support for Democratic candidates is higher and more stable in Congressional elections than in Presidential elections, running consistently close to 80%. 60% of American Jews identify as Democrats, compared to only 15% who identify as Republicans. And Jews, living up to their image, have become more liberal in recent years than they were a few decades ago, and are the most consistently liberal group in American politics, with well over 40% of those questioned in exit polls in the past three elections identifying as liberals.
There are no comments for this entry