Are Jewish Donkeys Suffering from Elephantitis?
by Alexis McNamee
Rampant speculations during this election season that the Democratic party is losing its Jewish loyalty are overblown. Yes, the results of 12 surveys conducted in 2011 by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press do reveal a drop in the margin of support from Jewish voters; in 2008 they favored the Democrats by a 52-point margin, while now they prefer the party by a much smaller 36-point margin. However, this is no reason to assert that the traditional ties between the Jewish community and the Democratic Party have been severed. Rather, this shift in support reflects an overarching trend. Pew Research analysis also revealed that the portion of voters that identify with or lean toward the GOP has grown or remained the same with every major religious group. Due to their historic Democratic affiliation, and the assumption that some Jews provide significant funding to campaigns, Jewish voters are frequently targeted in poll result analysis. Yet even this scrutiny might be exaggerated. In an article for our July/August 2011 issue, Nathan Guttman debunked the myths surrounding “the Jewish vote,” most importantly stating that polling Jews is generally inaccurate due to their small and scattered population. He also notes that the belief that the Jewish vote controls swing states like Florida has little weight. Jeffrey Goldberg at The Atlantic went so far as to call this issue a “massive Jewish vote overreaction,” highlighting the large Jewish donations to Obama’s campaign and predicting at least 70% Jewish support for Obama in 2012. Democrats can stop worrying and Republicans can stop celebrating that Jews are shying away from the Democratic Party due to Obama’s “unfriendly” stance on Israel. Experts agree that most Jewish voters don’t even consider policies on Israel as a decisive issue, with a 2010 American Jewish Committee poll placing the issue as Jews’ fifth priority at the voting booth. Overall, the shift in Jewish support merely reflects a larger trend. Numbers may fluctuate in the 2012 campaign, but the majority Jewish affiliation with the Democratic Party will remain unchanged.