Jewish party identification: Are American Jews becoming more Republican?


(I’ve been under the weather in the past few days, but here is a short update on some interesting numbers.)

A new Gallup poll offers some curious stats on the party identification of American Jews. According to the survey, 29% of American Jews “identified as Republicans or leaned Republican” (up from 22% in 2008), while 61% “identified as Democrats or leaned Democratic” (down from 71% in 2008). These tendencies are, to use Gallup’s term, “slightly more pronounced” than similar trends among the general US population (a seven percent drop for Democrats and a three percent rise for Republicans since 2008).

The general ratio among Jews is still around two-to-one in favour of the Democrats, though, and Gallup cites Jews’ lower level of religiosity (only 19% of Jews are ‘highly religious’, compared to 41% in the general population) and their higher level of education as the primary causes. One might argue that this explanation is a little simplistic, but it’s definitely part of the picture.

It’s worth noticing that Gallup’s numbers can’t really be compared to the Pew report statistics, since Gallup only focused on people who identified as Jews by religion (who were asked “what is your religion?” and answered with “Jewish”), whereas Pew also included “Jews not by religion” (people who answered a follow up question about connection to Judaism positively). Basically this means that the Gallup survey includes less Democratic Jews compared to Pew (68% of Jews by religion are Democrats compared to 78% of Jews of no religion).

In the graph below we can see the trend of increasing support for the GOP, based on polls from 2000 until today. The table of polls from which we derived the graph is presented right after the chart. Note that the graph itself is jumpy, but that can mainly be attributed to the fact that not all polls are alike. Pew polls divide the Jewish electorate into “leaning GOP” and “leaning Democratic” voters. In the annual surveys of the American Jewish Committee, the division is into Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. The move from poll to poll, from methodology to methodology, makes the needle nervous, and yet as we look at this compilation of all available polls (those that ask Jews to “identify” themselves politically), the trendline – that's the broken bold red line – is clear.

So here are the graph and the table. (The polls’ sources are marked as follows: * AJC annual surveys of Jewish opinion; ** Gallup; *** Jewish Distinctiveness in America, Tom W. Smith. T, 2005; **** Pew)

 

Year

GOP

Dem

Ind

Not Sure

2014**

29

61

 

 

2013*

15

52

32

 

2013****

22

70

 

 

2013**

28

64

 

 

2012**

27

66

 

 

2012*

19

52

26

2

2011**

27

64

 

 

2011 *

16

45

38

2

Fall 2010 *

17

48

34

1

2010 *

15

50

32

2

2010**

27

65

 

 

2010 ****

33

60

 

 

2009**

24

69

 

 

2009 *

16

53

30

1

2008**

22

71

 

 

2008 *

17

56

25

2

2008****

20

72

 

 

**** 2006

26

68

 

 

2005 *

16

54

29

1

2004 *

16

54

29

2

2002- 2004 **

16

50

34

 

2001-2002**

17

50

33

 

2000 *

9

59

30

2

1996 *

 

52

 

 

1991-2002 ***

 

51.7

 

 

1992-2001**

18

50

32

 

1981-90 ***

 

53.9

 

 

1972-80 ***

 

57.8

 

 

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