Last week was another week and therefore it brought another poll, this time conducted by the liberal Jewish group J Street. As Washington Jewish Week‘s Adam Kredo showed, the poll found that more American Jews than usual do not approve of a Democratic president’s handling of Israel issues, but that, as before, a pronounced majority of American Jews will vote for the Democratic candidate in the next presidential election.
Polls shouldn’t to be dismissed, and columnist Michelle Goldberg does address them today in Tablet Magazine. But she also goes beyond them, making the case that they have historically undersold how much Jews actually end up backing Democratic candidates; and she goes even beyond that and explains why Jewish voters, particularly since the 1984 election, have backed the Democrat in massively disproportionately numbers: it’s because the Republican Party has increasingly aligned itself with groups, from the Christian Coalition to the Tea Party, that see America as a fundamentally Christian nation, and, as Goldberg puts it, Jews “are unwilling to assume a role in their own country that’s in any way analogous to that of Arab citizens of Israel—a people with legal equality who are nonetheless excluded from their nation’s raison d’être.”
Speaking of polls, the last time a plurality (though not majority) of Jews did vote for a Republican, according to Goldberg, it was 1920, and 43 percent went for the victor, Warren G. Harding. The runner-up for the hearts of Jewish voters that year was the legendary Socialist Eugene V. Debs.