Jewish American Voting Behavior: Just the Facts 1972 - 2008

Sponsor(s): The Solomon Project

Principal Investigator(s): Mark S. Mellman, Aaron Strauss, Kenneth D. Wald

Study Dates: Report issued July 2012; voting data analyzed from 1972-2008

Key Findings:

The Report's Key Findings notes:

"This extensive analysis of exit poll data yields several key conclusions about the voting behavior of American Jews: Jewish presidential voting can be divided into two distinct eras."

"In the first period, from 1972 through 1988, Republican candidates for president attracted between 31% and 37% of the Jewish vote."

"In the second period, from 1992 through 2008, the GOP share of the Jewish vote dropped to between 15% and 23%."

"To smooth out the impact of occasional third-party candidates, we re-compute the vote as a percentage of the two-party vote (considering the vote for just the two major parties)."

"Employing this measure, the GOP captured 31%-46% from 1972 to 1988, but only 16%-24% from 1992 to 2008 (see Table 2 and Graph A)."

"In 2008, Barack Obama captured 74% of the total Jewish vote, which translates into 76% of the two-party vote. These figures are somewhat lower than the 78% of the total vote that was reported in the days after the 2008 election based on a much smaller sample of Jewish voters contained in the national sample exit poll sample alone (see below for discussion)."

"Jewish voters remain much more Democratic than the rest of the electorate. Since 1984, Jewish support for Democratic candidates has been 21-34 points higher than the support from the national electorate. Similarly, the Jewish percentage of the two-party vote has been 22-32 points more Democratic than the national electorate (see Graph B)."

"Jews have given even higher levels of support to Democratic congressional candidates — ranging from 71% to 80% of the two-party vote between 1976 and 2000 and from 71% to 88% since 2002.

A majority of Jewish voters identify themselves as Democrats, and these numbers have proved remarkably stable over time. In 2008, 57% of Jewish voters labeled themselves Democrats, and 13% identified as Republicans. Since 1976, between 54% and 64% of American Jews have identified as Democrats while 8%-20% identified as Republicans (see Table 4 and Graph K)."

"A large plurality of Jewish voters identifies as liberals, and these numbers too have been relatively stable over time. In 2008, 45% of Jewish voters called themselves liberals compared to 12% who labeled themselves conservatives. Between 1976 and 2008, 36%-46% of Jewish voters identified themselves as liberals and 10%-21% identified as conservatives (see Table 5)."

Study Notes: Press Release notes: “The report is authored by Mark Mellman, Dr. Aaron Strauss, and Dr. Kenneth Wald. Mr. Mellman is one of the nation’s leading public opinion researchers and CEO of The Mellman Group. Dr. Strauss is currently on leave from The Mellman Group and serves as the director of targeting at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Dr. Wald is one of the first contemporary political scientists to focus on the relationship of religion and politics and is a Distinguished Professor of Political Science at the University of Florida.”

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