This question has been bothering me for quite a long time. Of course, I myself tend to vote Republican. Most of the Jews I know, mostly from the former Soviet Union, also tend to vote Republican. But those who grew up in this country are Democrats, even though it seems contrary to their values. I am not the only one who is bothered by this. A good friend of mine from San Jose (let’s call him G. F., by his initials) sent me this analysis with permission to post it on my blog:
- Majority of American Jews vote for Democratic party predominantly because of the historical standing for civil liberties and freedoms – this is how it all started. In fact it started around 1916 when 55% of Jewish voters voted for Woodrow Wilson;
- American Jews are not Israeli Jews – besides immigrants from former Soviet Union – Israel is somewhere between gay rights and gun control on the list of their current Issues. I mean they all donate, but more action would be very nice;
- Most of the American Jews (I am not speaking about most of the immigrants from former Soviet Union) are shielded by comfortable living in their bedroom communities and a lot of pain and suffering Israel endures during the "peace process" does not necessarily translate directly to their (American Jews) decision making. I mean some of them do attend rallies to "stand with Israel", but this group of educated, intellectual thinkers cannot organize a rally that looks like a rally worth covering in the national news. Let’s say the media has a bias (it does) – so what? Jewish population is slightly larger than Muslim in United States, we are richer and more educated, there are tons of Jews in media and Hollywood. There is something terribly wrong here. Look at Pro-Palestinian rallies – they do look scary and impressive! Barbarians destroyed the Rome, remember?
- The 2. and 3. explains (in my opinion) why American Jews vote differently then Israeli – it has nothing to do with poor or great education – Israel has enough bright and educated who voted for Netanyahu or even Liberman
- 2., 3. and 4. brings us to the fact that American Jews love to deliberate about fairness, settlements, security fences (in the context of a land grab) – all current Democratic party line. By doing this they (we, us :) exercise a very noble (I am serious) intellectual game of continuing the fight for liberties, while "supporting" Israel. The problem is (in my view) that when this deliberations is done amongst ourselves – this is all fine (kind of), but bringing it out and agreeing with national agenda – brings back Israel on the map – making Israel sound as a sole cause of instability in the world. Never mind every single country in the Middle East having their own version of Hitler (or Stalin – whichever you like or dislike more :) at the throne, peddling their own version of fascism, oppressing their own people and killing their own Muslims;
- Which brings us to UN – because of the above Israeli Jews do vote differently and recently gave a fat middle finger to Obama in the form of not negotiating anything before the regimes they being forced to negotiate with agree with Israel’s right to exist. What also makes me feel good is that (excellent BTW) at UN did draw more hits on YouTube than Obama’s part 1.
- The Israel is changing so do American Jews – Americans just lag. Which brings us back to the voting. Based on my own research and everything above I came to the conclusion that attrition to Republican party amongst American Jews actually exists. Since both – Democrats and Republicans – had pretty bad candidates during 2008 election (Obama is horrible and McCain just suck), some (and I suspect a lot) just didn’t vote for a president at all or throw away their vote by giving it to someone outside of the public radar. Most likely only those who seriously to the left or right from the center voted for the president and the rest – just abstained. Which resulted in 78% Jewish votes for Obama and 21% for McCain – which didn’t make sense but does now. My prediction is that on next elections (unless of course Republicans will pull "Sarah Palin" again) Republicans will get their 30% or even above of Jewish voters if attendance (Jewish) will be high. I bet I do not need to explain how 3% error of 2% (total US Jewish population) looks like when statistical set is smaller. They will not necessarily vote for Republican party, but against Obama.
Consider this table:
Voted For Dem Voted For Rep President
45% 39% 1980-Carter->Reagan
67% 31% 1984-Mondale->Reagan
64% 35% 1988-Dukakis->Bush
80% 11% 1992-Clinton<-Bush
78% 16% 1996-Clinton<-Dole
79% 19% 2000-Gore->Bush
74% 25% 2004-Kerry->Bush
78% 21% 2008-Obama<-McCain
My only disagreement with my friend’s analysis is that he seems to have bought into the media demonization of Sarah Palin.