The One Number That Shows Why Jews Really Vote Liberal
Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam.
The debate over why Jews vote the way that they do is an old one, but it’s rarely backed by much data except the estimates of the Jewish vote from the last election.
There is, however, one piece of data that currently predicts the Jewish vote. It’s religious attendance.
60 percent of Jews that attend weekly religious services disapprove of Obama. Only 34 percent approve.
Among those who don’t attend religious services, approval of Obama stood at 58 percent to 38 percent.
There are really two Jewish votes; the religious Jewish vote and the secular Jewish vote.
Something similar happens when we break down Obama’s approval ratings by church attendance. Among those who attend church weekly, Obama’s approval ratings hover between 39 percent and 46 percent. Among those who never attend church, between 53 to 57 percent approve of Obama.
These numbers come from a Gallup poll taken this year that did what few polls of American Jews do in breaking down the seemingly monolithic vote to find some interesting things. The most interesting thing is that the Jewish vote is more demographically out of step with Americans than politically out of step.
When we break it down by behaviors and beliefs, the Jewish vote is not that different than the overall American vote. What is different is the balance of behaviors and beliefs in the Jewish community.
Only 11 percent of American Jews attend religious services weekly. Among Americans in general, it’s over 40 percent.
Recently I noted that American Jews had become a liberal outlier globally as Jews in the UK, Canada, Israel and Australia were voting conservative. And Jewish communities in those countries also tend to be relatively more traditional and religious than in the United States.
UK Jews are more than twice as likely to attend synagogue services weekly as American Jews.
63 percent of Israeli Jews “believe completely” that there is a G-d while only 34 percent of American Jews are certain that they believe in G-d, a universal spirit or something. 63 percent of Israeli Jews keep Kosher as do 52 percent of UK Jews and 22 percent of American Jews. Intermarriage is at 44 percent among American Jews, 26 percent among UK Jews and negligible among Israeli Jews.
Traditional religious values naturally align with conservative politics. And vice versa.
The political left with its messianic obsessions, environmental apocalypses and fanatical devotion to the cause occupies a space traditionally filled by religion.
When religion leaves, other things replace it instead. The Jewish left is the hole left by the absence of Judaism and any meaningful Jewish historical, national and cultural identity.
When asked what it means to be Jewish, 56 percent of American Jews mentioned social justice, 42 percent mentioned comedy and only 43 percent mentioned Israel. 28 percent mentioned being part of a Jewish community. Only 19 percent mentioned anything involving religion.
People with Jewish last names for whom being Jewish is leftist politics and a joke should not be expected to care about Israel. If being Jewish means nothing to them, why would the Jewish State?
However among UK Jews, 61 percent listed Jewish peoplehood, 40 percent mentioned social justice, 38 percent listed religion and 36 percent mentioned the Sabbath. Those are still poor numbers, but they explain why the UK Jewish community is politically healthier and saner than its American cousins.
The political results of that difference in worldviews expressed itself when 70 percent of UK Jews voted conservative while 69 percent of Jews voted for Obama. (Down to 61 percent Democrat affiliation this year.)
It’s all a question of whether you think being Jewish means being part of a community, a nation and a religion… or laughing at Jon Stewart’s jokes.
Religion is a significant predictor of political orientation, but it’s not the only significant factor.
Obama’s biggest base of support is among Jewish college graduates. That’s where he enjoys a 54 to 43 percent approval rating. Among post-graduates that climbs to 62 percent against 36 percent.
That’s not too radically different from the overall Obama approval ratings for college graduates in the general population which has hovered between 53 percent and 46 percent.
Among Jews with only a high school diploma or less, 53 percent disapproved of Obama while only 39 percent approved. These numbers are far more negative on Obama than the national average, but those numbers are skewed by a disproportionate share of minority supporters in that category.
If Jews had the same percentage of college grads and post-grads as the rest of the country, the Jewish vote might be conservative. But while 29 percent of adults overall have a college degree and 10 percent have a post-graduate degree, 58 percent of Jews have a college degree and 28 percent have a post-graduate degree. The fundamental difference here isn’t so much political as demographic.
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