August 20, 2019

2016 Election Blog #15: New Poll Confirms Jewish Affinity for the Democratic Party

As each presidential campaign unfolds, there are always news stories and editorials suggesting that a “shift” is underway among Jewish voters. In today’s newest Gallup poll, once again Jewish Americans appear to remain solidly embedded within their traditional political base, the Democratic Party:

According to the Jewish Insider, the key findings confirm the following:

“The poll, conducted January 2 to March 21, showed that 72 percent of Jewish Americans have an unfavorable view of both Cruz and Trump.
24 percent see Trump as favorable, while only 20 percent have a favorable opinion of Cruz. Ohio Governor John Kasich is the only Republican presidential candidate who has a positive image among Jewish Americans (45/28 favorable/unfavorable).

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is viewed most favorable (61/30), although Hillary Clinton’s net favorability rating is just a few points lower (60/35).

According to Gallup, 64% of American Jews identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party, while 29% identify with or lean toward the Republican Party.” [1] 

In a related development the number of Jews who identify with the Democratic Party however appears to be diminishing:

“The number of American Jews who identify as Democrats dropped by 10 percent over the past seven years, according to survey results released by Gallup.

Meanwhile, the number of Jews identifying as Republicans has increased slightly but remains little changed overall.

Sixty-one percent of American Jews identified as either Democrats or Democratic-leaning in 2014, down from 71% in 2008, while 29% counted themselves in the Republican camp, the survey released on Tuesday found.”[2]

In analyzing this decline, it would be appropriate to consider several factors. The President’s approval ratings amongst American Jews has been declining for some period of time, and this factor certainly has contributed to the decline in party affiliation.

Secondly, the rise in instances of terrorism both here and abroad has sparked a heighten concern around national security that may have drawn some Democrats to endorse various Republican candidates.

Generational and demographic factors certainly have altered over time the Jewish liberal orientation. More directly, the rise of American Orthodox Jewish voters as a growing constituency has helped to reshape the political landscape within the Jewish community.

[1] [2] Dr. Steven Windmueller is the Rabbi Alfred Gottschalk Emeritus Professor of Jewish Communal Service at the Jack H. Skirball campus of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Los Angeles. His collection of writings can be found on his website: