Jewish Journal

Pew on Jews: New Data Rekindles the Debate over the Jewish Vote

by Steven Windmueller

February 15, 2012 | 12:07 pm

The recently released Pew Study on “Trends in Party Identification by Religion” (February 2nd, 2012) has reopened the debate over the “Jewish vote”. The study found that Jews who support or lean Republican jumped from 20% in 2008 to 29% in 2011. And Jews who support or lean Democratic fell from 72% in 2008 to 65% in 2011.

In 2008, 72% of Jews identified themselves as Democrats or said they leaned toward the Democratic Party, and Democrats held a 52-point advantage among this group. In 2011, the Democratic advantage among Jews has shrunk to 36 points. The 2011 poll has a 6.5% margin of error. Some 330 Jews were part of the sample in this study. The report’s broader findings suggest support for the Republican Party has increased among all major religious groups.

These changes may have some significance in battleground states such as Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, where the Jewish vote is seen as crucial to both political parties, but the broader question has once again stimulated a conversation over Jewish voting patterns. As a result of this report there is a renewed discussion about the “changing Jewish vote”.  Indeed, there are indicators not only based on this survey but other data of some political movement among those Jews most likely to vote.

Recent studies reflect a move among some Jewish voters, mainly younger participants, in identifying as “independents” rather than necessarily becoming Republicans.

In more general terms, “The analysis shows that across several religious groups, the move toward the GOP has been at least as large – if not more pronounced – among those under age 30 as among those 30 and older. White evangelicals under 30, for instance, are now more heavily Republican than those over 30 (82% vs. 69%).”


With Super Tuesday looming before us, we may see more trends that will give greater definition to the changes that may be occurring among Jewish voters.

One of the defining features of voting patterns involves the principle that voters tend to move very slowly in altering their allegiances to particular political parties or their political values. Are we at the beginning of a significant political transition? Only time will provide us with such insights.

Steven Windmueller

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From June 2006 to June 2010, Steven Windmueller served as the Dean of Hebrew Union College, Los Angeles campus.  In March of 2009, President David Ellenson named Professor...

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