Results! The Jews

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Keeping in mind the several caveats noted yesterday, the overall conclusion to draw from yesterday’s voting by religion is that the more things change, the more they stay pretty much the same.
Let’s start with the first of the Abrahamic faiths–the Jews. In 2004, they bumped a bit toward George W. Bush, up from 79-19 for Gore in 2000 to 76-24 for Kerry. This time around, despite expectations that they would provide John McCain with the biggest Jewish vote for a Republican since Ronald Reagan, they reverted to type, voting for Barack Obama 78-21. Credit Sarah, Palin not Silverman, and the economy for that. I figured the margin would be smaller, 70-29. But for all the vile emails, the huffing and puffing of the neocons, the efforts at guilt by association, the Liebermanic campaigning, it was business as usual. Jewish Republicans seemed destined to be the Cubs fans of American religion–always hopeful, always disappointed.
Update: I’m trying to figure out how all Jews could break 78-21 for Obama, but white Jews break 83-17 for him. What kind of non-white Jews would be less likely to give Obama their votes? Any ideas?

  • Mark:
    I actually don’t think Sarah Silverman had much to do with anything. Her video was more interesting media hype that political/religious junkies such as myself watched. Remember that the Republican Jewish Coalition responded in kind with a pro-McCain spot by Jackie Mason.
    While there a handful of African-American Jews (really negligible statistically), 10 percent of American Jews are born outside of the United States. So the question is do Sephardi Jews consider themselves “white?” This also might go for some former Soviet/Russian Jews. Likewise, there are tightly knit Syrian and Iranian Jewish communities who might not consider themselves white and cumulatively number in the hundreds of thousands. (Counter-balancing that, however, is that many of them are Orthodox, which means statistically they would lean Republican).
    Clearly, we need a little more data, which will be coming in the weeks ahead.

  • Mark Silk

    I agree about Silverman–that was my point. I figure the Russian Jews do consider themselves white. So that leaves the Iranians and Syrians. And their Republicanism is exactly why the numbers would go that way. So I guess it leaves the empirical question: Do they consider themselves “persons of color?” Beats me.

  • Ronald Kiener

    One other possibility: the sample was so tiny (look at the 2004 sample – only 268 people) that we might not know what really happened for a bit. The Forward had an article on this problem on Oct. 30.

  • Mark Silk

    My understanding of such things is that an n of 268 is not that bad. I’ve generally been told that the threshold is n = 100.

  • On the Jewish vote in general — and not the “white Jews” thing (which really is weird) — I am increasingly of the thought that two factors (but not the only ones) that brought more Jews to Obama than Kerry is a) In 2004 we were still in post-9/11 shock and the war in Iraq was far from as bad is it had become by this campaign season; b)some Jews saw in Obama a non-threatening African-American who could help them relive their thoughts of the grand Black-Jewish alliance of the 1960s.
    This came after a few decades of dealing with the Revs. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, who each had real (or perceived) problems with the Jewish community. Bill Clinton was able to bridge that gap, but John Kerry was not.
    Finally, it will be most fascinating for readers of this blog to see if Obama keeps any religious rhetoric in his talks and how he handles faith-based funding initiatives.
    I hope to do some writing on all of that myself.