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American Jews and the 2008 Presidential Election: As Democratic and Liberal as Ever?

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Publication Date: October 2008

Publisher(s): Berman Jewish Policy Archive

Author(s): Steven M. Cohen; Sam Abrams; Judith Veinstein

Special Collection: Berman Jewish Policy Archive

Topic: Culture and religion (Religion and religious groups)
Politics (Political parties and groups)

Keywords: Jewish Democrats; American Jews; Jewish voters

Type: Report

Coverage: United States

Abstract:

The long-standing identification of large numbers of American Jews with the Democratic Party and the liberal camp in American politics has been one of the most reliable features of national elections. Jews' much-heralded attachment to the Democratic Party and its presidential candidates dates back at least four generations, starting with the 1932 election that brought Franklin Delano Roosevelt to office. Since then, most Jews, election after election, have behaved as among the most loyal Democrats, both as voters and activists. Of all white ethnic and religious groups in the United States, Jews have voted for Democratic presidential candidates more than any other in all 19 quadrennial contests from 1932 to 2004.

The 2008 election again raises the question of how American Jews will vote--and why. Will they, aside from the Orthodox, continue to give lopsided support to the Democratic candidate? Or will 2008 bring a marked recession in the historically high levels of Democratic voting among American Jews? What about the Jewish response to the economic crisis in the United States--will Jews engage in economic retrospective voting or will particular socio-economic issues--such as the security of Israel--trump these larger national economic concerns?