Revisiting the Jewish Vote: Election Night 2014

Steven Windmueller, Ph. D.

Posted on November 5, 2014 / 12 Heshvan 5775

Written by Steven Windmueller, Ph. D.


Minority-communities, including Jews-Asians-Blacks and Hispanics, continue to embrace the Democratic Party. In comparison with other religious communities, Jews remain the most liberal, supporting Democratic candidates by 65%, in contrast to Mormons, for example, who are overwhelmingly Republican at 73% or Protestant Americans who favored the GOP by a 64% average. The age-divide was seen among American voters, as younger citizens, ages 18-40, supported the Democrats, while older voters endorsed Republican Party candidates.

According to Republican sources, the average level of support for the GOP in mid-term elections among Jewish voters has been 26%. Over the past forty years, the Republican Jewish vote has ranged from a low of 18% in 1982 to a high of 33% in this year’s election outcome. In the past two mid-term elections, 2006 and 2010, Republicans were able to secure more than 30% of the Jewish vote.

No doubt, the higher than average support for Republican candidates on the part of the Jewish electorate will once again raise the claim, is the Jewish vote “becoming Republican?”

Generally, in off-year elections Jewish voters appear to be less ideological in their voting patterns, tending to support bread and butter issues and individual candidates regardless of party, whereas in national elections Jews revert to their strongly held loyalties to the Democratic Party, possibly explaining their historic connections to Democratic Presidential candidates.

In a Fox News Exit Survey, those attending religious services once a week or more, regardless of religious tradition, tend to vote Republican (58 %), thus supporting the claim that Orthodox Jews are identified more frequently as favoring the Republican Party. The same survey confirmed among all voting groups confirmed the political divide, identified elsewhere among Americans, namely that Democrats “generally see the country going in the right direction” (82%) while Republicans believe that the country is “seriously off on the wrong track” (69%).

Winners and Losers:

With this outcome the RJC (Republican Jewish Coalition) is claiming a series of victories, seeing in the Republican take over of the Senate an opportunity to impose greater sanctions on Iran and defining the Congress as a pro-Israel stronghold in the current atmosphere of tension between Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu and President Obama.

New York State Senator Lee Zeldin, who was elected on Tuesday, will be the only Jewish Republican in the House of Representatives.

While overall there will be fewer Jewish members seated in the 114th Congress than we have seen in the past. Both Al Franken (Democrat, Minn.) and Brian Schatz (Democrat, Hawaii) would win their seats.

As in the past, America can be seen as a divided constituency. But the demarcations between “Red” and “Blue” States, at least for this round, reflected a significant narrowing of the base of Democratic Party support.

Dr. Steven Windmueller is the Rabbi Alfred Gottschalk Emeritus Professor of Jewish Communal Service at the Jack H. Skirball Campus of HUC-JIR, Los Angeles. See his writings, www.theWindreport and his new book, The Quest for Power: A Study in Jewish Political Behavior and Practice, which maybe secured through Amazon.

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