The Wind Report 2016 Elections Blog #1: How Jews Vote-Unpacking Jewish Voters

Steven Windmueller, Ph. D.

Posted on May 27, 2015 / 9 Sivan 5775

Written by Steven Windmueller, Ph. D.


2016 Elections

In preparation for the 2016 Presidential Elections, this is the first of a series of blog reports that will be devoted to the particular facts and issues related to the Jewish vote.

Blog #1 Unpacking Jewish Voters:

There appear to be six categories of Jewish voters. A brief explanation is offered in this blog report about each of these distinctive voting groups:

Red State Jews: there is a significant base of Jewish Republicans whose families over time developed deep connections within their home states (frequently mid-Western) to the base of the Republican Party; these families may be among the longest standing party “loyalists” of any voting group.

Republican Converts: those Jews who have “converted” their political loyalties to the GOP or as “New Americans” have found a home within the Republican Party. Jews from the former Soviet Union, Iran, and Israel often identify with the national security priorities of the Republican Party.

Israel Advocates: this is a more recent phenomenon of voters who frame their activism and support around “pro-Israel” candidates and issues, prepared to offer support to both parties, as long as their positions are affirmed.

Jewish Independents: often described as “moderates,” these voters would be comfortable with many Republican candidates, minus their social values agenda, while endorsing their economic policies and pro-Israel positions. An increasing number of younger Jewish voters, are now found in this category, often unprepared to nominally accept their parents’ political labels and loyalties.

Blue State Democrats: a deeply-rooted cohort of American Jews who have been anchored for decades inside the Democratic Party, who for the most part, reside in traditional Democratic electoral districts or states. In keeping with their family tradition, these loyalist Democrats have maintained a consistent voting record over many decades. This large sector of voters tend to be situated in ten key electoral states (Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Illinois, California, Florida, and Texas).

Red Diaper Descendants: this small but still present “left wing” contingent whose politics were framed around socialist and other radical political ideas, these voters often find Democratic candidates barely acceptable, preferring at times to register their dissent by voting for third party candidates.

This material has been prepared by Steven Windmueller, Ph.D., the Rabbi Alfred Gottschalk Emeritus Professor of Jewish Communal Studies, Jack H. Skirball Campus, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Los Angeles.

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