Saturday, July 11, 2009

Are American Jews getting more conservative?

I got into an argument last night with some friends here in Israel about whether American Jews are getting more conservative politically/supporting Republicans more. Their opinion was that American Jews were tending more Republican and more right-wing in general in their politics. My opinion was that American Jews remained quite liberal compared to the rest of the American population, based on how they vote in presidential elections. (I thought that they, surprisingly, were following the views of people like the Republican Jewish coalition, which keeps saying that American Jews are about to break massively for the Republicans - but then they never do). Other factors entered the argument, like how American Jews' customary liberalism affects how they feel about Israel, and whether American Jews have gotten more right-wing on Israel than in the past. I just took a look and found the statistics for Jewish voting in presidential elections from 1960 to 2008. There were some surprising results (for me).

I hadn't realized how much Jewish support Carter had lost from 1976 to 1980. An article that I just read on the net (The Israel Swing Factor: How the American Jewish Vote Influences U.S. Elections) recapitulates some of the events that led to that lessening of support (one was the U.S. ambassador to the UN voting in favor of an anti-Israel resolution in the Security Council). This was quite helpful to Reagan, who received 39% of the Jewish vote in 1980, the highest percentage received by any Republican presidential candidate since Eisenhower in 1956 received 40% of the Jewish vote. Jews also voted in greater numbers for Nixon in 1972 than I had recalled (35%). Since 1992, no Democratic presidential candidate has received less than 3/4 of the Jewish vote.

Jewish vote in presidential elections

1960 - 82% Kennedy; 18% Nixon
1964 - 90% Johnson; 10% Goldwater
1968 - 81% Humphrey; 17% Nixon; 2% Wallace
1972 - 65% McGovern; 35% Nixon
1976 - 71% Carter; 27% Ford
1980 - 45% Carter; 39% Reagan; 15% Anderson
1984 - 67% Mondale; 31% Reagan
1988 - 64% Dukakis; 35% GHW Bush
1992 - 78% Clinton; 11% GHW Bush; 9% Perot
1996 - 78% Clinton; 16% Dole; 3% Perot
2000 - 79% Gore; 19% GW Bush; 1% Nader
2004 - 76% Kerry; 24% GW Bush; <1% Nader
2008 - 78% Obama; 22% McCain

I doubt that these statistics would bring my argument with my friends to an end, but they do show that at least by one measure, Jews have not trended significantly more Republican since 1992.


  1. "not trended significantly more Republican since 1992"? More like "broke sharply towards the Democrats in 1992 and have consistently maintained support at levels not seen since the 1960s."

  2. Correct! I should e-mail this to my friends.

  3. Communities tend to support those political parties that will promise to offer them more benefits and take care of their needs and if such promises are delivered then the support becomes long term.

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