[H/t to A.L. and Sultan Knish]
As I’ve written elsewhere, talk of the “Jewish community” or the “Jewish vote” is misguided as there are many Jewish communities and these various communities have different voting patterns. For example, Reform Jews generally vote Democratic while the Orthodox tend to vote Republican.
Nevertheless, polls are one way of measuring voter preference. In a previous post I mentioned a (flawed) poll that had Jews voting for McCain over Obama 54 percent to 32 percent. Here are some more recent poll results (article from the JPost):
Barack Obama leads John McCain by 27 points among Jewish voters, according to a new survey.
Obama leads 57 percent to 30% among those polled in the American Jewish Committee’s 2008 Annual Survey of American Jewish Opinion, with 13% undecided, but he significantly trails the Jewish vote for recent Democratic presidential candidates.
By contrast, John Kerry received 76% of the Jewish vote four years ago against George W. Bush, and in the three prior presidential elections, Democrats won 78% to 80% of Jewish votes. The 2004 AJC survey, taken three weeks earlier in that campaign than this year, found Kerry leading 69% to 24%.
The poll by survey research organization Synovate of 914 self-identifying Jewish respondents, selected from Synovate’s consumer mail panel, was conducted by telephone September 8-21. The margin of error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.
McCain enjoyed a 78% to 13% lead among Orthodox Jews, but Obama won easily among all other Jewish groups: Conservatives, 59% to 26%; Reform, 62% to 27%; and those calling themselves “just Jewish,” 61% to 26%.
Sultan Knish has this to add:
Jews do vote fairly predictably but the most predictable percentage of the Jewish vote breaks down into three categories, senior citizens who grew up with FDR or the memory of FDR and treat the Democratic party as a safety blanket against fascism and the depression, Jewish women for whom gender is highly important and are career oriented and thirdly an assimilated class of politically liberal yuppies with very little in the way of a Jewish identity…
McCain will however not make a great deal of inroads with the latter category of younger liberal yuppies because they are liberal first, followed by a catalog card of identities, with Jewish and American appearing on the list somewhere in the back or not at all. Which is why asking why they don’t vote following Jewish interests or Israel is pointless, because they really don’t consider themselves particularly Jewish. And really they aren’t.
I usually avoid denying a particular identity to people (Jewish, leftist, conservative, etc.), especially when they self-identify with that particular identity. For example, if someone identifies themselves as Jewish I don’t question that. But the Sultan is correct in pointing out the mushiness of this identity (and the concept of identity in general) as well as the notion that all of us are packages of an assortment of interrelated identities (religious, class, ethnic, political, nationality, gender, etc.). Which identity takes precedence? And can we ever truly disentangle these identities from each other?