October 4, 2012
American Jewish Party identification: We have the answer
For those attempting to keep score of American Jewish party identification numbers, the recent 2012 election polls are another reason to feel sure that the picture is now quite clear. To understand why, you need to read the following with some patience – if you don't want the explanation, just the numbers, we can tell you that American Jews are 65-68% Democratic and 26-29% Republican. The rest is, well, analysis of recent polls.
We begin with the two new polls that we used for this new analysis. Both the Republican Jewish Coalition and J Street conducted Election Day exit polls of Jewish voters. Both organizations have their numbers available on the web (J Street, RJC). I wrote two long posts on the outcome of the two polls that you can read here and here, but hadn't yet examined the division of Jews according to party identification in these polls.
So we begin with the numbers: As you can see, both J Street and RJC have Jews at relatively similar percentages, 56% Democrat and 18-19% Republican. So far, so good. If you've been following our previous posts on Jewish party identification these numbers should be familiar. They are not much different from numbers presented in American Jewish Committee annual polls of Jewish opinion and other polls that we track.
Next: Back in May we showed that a finely tuned division of the Jewish Independent vote - by way of finding the so-called "leanings" of independent voters - can lead to an even clearer picture of American Jewish political tendencies. We did it by using two sets of polls, one from PEW and another one from AJC. The 2012 AJC poll, unlike previous AJC polls, asked Independent respondents to identify which party they were "leaning" toward (PEW does the same in all its polls). Luckily, the new J Street poll does something similar. In fact, it is even more detailed as it divides the voters into "strong Democrat", "weak Democrat", "independent-lean Democrat", "strong Republican", "weak Republican" and "independent-lean Republican". The following table presents the above-mentioned polls: the newer RJC and J Street and the older PEW and AJC polls. But take a closer look at the bottom three lines in which we present the numbers for the polls in which one can see how the "leanings" are divided:
What we see here is quite clear: the new J Street poll follows the same pattern of the PEW and AJC polls, and gives the impression that these are true percentages of Jewish political tendencies. Jewish Republicans form more than a quarter, but less than a third, of the pie, Jewish Democrats are the vast majority, but not as much as 70% of the vote. If one searches for a long-term trend, one could conclude that the trend presented by PEW - according to which the GOP is gaining among Jews in recent years - might be a better description than the one derived from the more chaotic graph of other polls.
You can see them both here:
Jewish party ID – PEW:
Jewish party ID – other polls:
* AJC annual surveys of Jewish opinion