Why Are Jews Democrats?

It’s a stereotype but one that happens to be true – Jews in America disproportionately support the Democratic party. In 2008, despite concerns about whether the huge bloc of elderly Jewish voters in Florida would vote for an African American candidate (see Sarah Silverman’s hilarious Great Schlep video), Barack Obama won 75% of the Jewish vote.

Jews represent a mere 2% of the US population. Consequently, of the 535 members of Congress, it would be reasonable to expect roughly 10 Jewish congresspeople. Amazingly, there are 44 Jewish members of Congress (13 Senators and 31 Representatives). Anyone care to guess how many of those 44 members are Republican? Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) is the sole attendee at the annual Republican Hanukkah party.

But why are Jews so overwhelmingly blue? Why isn’t the Jewish population split as evenly as the rest of our deeply divided nation? My theory is education.

As an ethnic group, Jews are one of the best educated in America. Educated people ask hard questions and see through simple explanations. Educated people realize that we are all connected – we all succeed when everyone succeeds. Educated people are more inclined to cast their votes on the basis of substance and policy, rather than personality and charm. Educated people realize that our government can be a force for positive change in our lives.

In short, education is the Republican Party’s worst enemy because it’s hard to trick educated people into voting against their self-interest. That’s why I think so many Jews are Democrats.
While we’re on the subject of Jewish demographics, everyone knows that New York has the largest Jewish population in the US (as a percentage of total population) but can you guess which five US states have the next highest percentages?

Answer:
  1. New Jersey (5.5%)
  2. Massachusetts (4.3%)
  3. Maryland (4.2%)
  4. Florida (3.7%)
  5. California (3.3%)

2 thoughts on “Why Are Jews Democrats?”

  1. Perhaps. But don't forget the near monolithic way the black communty votes Democratic without the same statistical measures of access or use of education. Don't forget the high degree of education of certain subsets of Roman Catholic populations but their distinct shift Republican in last decades.

    Don't underestimate existing social position. Don't underestimate the harder to measure basic value system a sub-culture hands down. Don't underestimate the sheer magnitude of past injustice suffered so that certain values can better withstand the posioning complacency of affluence .

    (PS

    As you know, because you know me… This is not an endorsement of Dems as party of sense and justice. I am still mostly a pox-on-both-their-houses guy. It is just my thoughts on why some groups tend not to join the especially awful travesty of good basic values that is Reps. circa 2010.

  2. I thought about the "legacy of oppression" hypothesis but I concluded that young jews with little direct experience with discrimination and increasingly secular world views continue to be strongly dem. Different factors may be in play with different groups but I agree with you completely – the answer is undoubtedly more multi-faceted than my simple description.

Leave a Reply