A Minority with the Perception of a Majority


Do social issues make Jewish voters migrate to one side of an aisle or another, or do the issues effecting Israel make Jews go out and vote? The term, “the Jewish vote,” is often referred to by media or even talked about by political campaign strategists with an air of certainty, but when it is actually analyzed, there is no clear picture of the voting patterns of Jews as a single block. There are so many factors that go into individual Jewish community voting patterns; it often causes more confusion for those trying to understand just what issues will move a Jewish electorate.

The American Jewish Committee conducted a survey of American Jews across the spectrum and streams of observance. For all of the noise often made over Israel policy and the contention that there is a lack of commitment to Israel by the Obama Administration, Jews would still support Obama by 61 percent to Romney’s 28 percent.

Interesting though, there seems to be a link between religious activity and voting behavior that may run counter to the perception. Of the 14 percent of American Jews who claim to attend religious services one or more times per week, 52 percent said they would vote for Obama, where only 34 percent for Romney. As it is the more religious communities that hold Israel issues more closely, the broader support by those who attend services seems off.

The qualification here is that the survey was expansive and included non-orthodox streams of Judaism, people who attend services primarily only on weekends, such as Reform and Conservative, which make up more of American Jewry. Even then, the so called – and slowly fading – Modern Orthodox Jewish communities, which tend to be more vigilant on Israel, cannot be grouped together with the ultra Orthodox communities. Often, the more religious communities are not concerned with Israel as much as they seek candidates who support their local needs or wants.

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