President Donald Trump claims that Jewish Americans, who are traditionally staunch supporters of the Democratic Party, are leaving it. A look at the polling data finds, however, that Jewish Americans continue overwhelmingly to be Democrats and opposed to Trump.
Jewish Americans voted for the Democratic Party by about a 3:1 margin in the 2018 midterm elections. This was true whether you looked at the exit poll data, a large pre-election study of Jewish Americans for the non-partisan American Jewish Committee conducted by SSRS (who conducts CNN’s national polls) or other non-partisan studies. Other polls for partisan organizations with large sample sizes also back up these findings. In the exit poll, Jewish voters backed the Democratic candidate for Congress by a 79% to 17% margin.
Jewish Americans are far more likely to call themselves Democrats than Republicans. In the 2018 exit poll, 64% of Jewish voters identified as Democrats compared to only 10% who called themselves Republican. The SSRS pre-election poll put the Democratic identification advantage among Jewish Americans at a slightly less impressive but still quite large 51% to 16%. The rest of the voters either identified as either independent or not with any party.
Further, when it comes to party identification, Jewish Americans are just as Democratic as they were before Trump became president. In the 2016 SSRS poll, 51% of Jewish Americans were Democrats compared to 18% who were Republicans. That’s the same percentage who were Democrats in 2018, while Republicans actually saw a 2-point drop.
Polls indicate Jewish Americans aren’t fans of Trump. The 2018 exit poll, Gallup in 2017 and SSRS in 2018 all put his approval or favorable rating at 26% or lower among Jewish Americans. His disapproval and unfavorable rating among Jewish Americans is north of 70%, while his strongly disapprove or strongly unfavorable is higher than 60%.
The data also doesn’t appear to show that Jews are voting more Republican. The Democratic vote share among Jewish Americans was, if anything, higher in the 2018 House vote than it was in the 2016 presidential vote. Comparing the 2016 and 2018 exit poll, the Jewish American vote going Democratic rose from 71% to 79%. According to SSRS, it rose from 67% to 74% after taking out those who said they wouldn’t vote.
Another way to look at it is a longer time trend. The Pew Research Center has collected data on party identification among various groups, including Jewish Americans, since the 1990s. Their last report published in 2018 noted that the Democratic Party advantage over the Republican Party among Jewish Americans has “little changed over the last decade.”
In fact, we can go all the way back to 1994, when Pew first has data on the party identification of Jewish Americans. In that year, 49% of Jewish Americans called themselves Democrats when asked whether they were Democratic, Republican or independent. That’s about the same as the 51% of Jewish Americans who called themselves Democrats in the 2018 SSRS poll.
Now, Jewish Americans are not a monolithic group. Reform Jewish Americans are even more Democratic leaning than the average Jewish American. Orthodox Jewish Americans are far more likely to be Republican than Democratic.
But when it comes to the average Jewish American, she or he remains strongly Democratic.