In just two weeks, Americans head to the polls in what is predicted to be one of the closest midterm elections in history. Many of the races that will determine which party controls Congress will be decided by an extremely small percentage of the vote. In light of this political reality, all eyes are on key constituencies in critical states such as Florida, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey where the Jewish community plays an outsized role. This is because Jewish voters show up to the polls and have historically identified with Democrats by more than 20 points than the American electorate as a whole.
As some question whether Jews will continue to support Democrats this election cycle, the answer is unequivocally and empirically “yes.” According to a recent non-partisan national poll of the Jewish electorate, Jews remain overwhelmingly supportive of Democrats and see themselves and the Democratic Party as pro-Israel. Political affiliation among the Jewish electorate continues to be driven by values, and Trump’s lack of a moral compass is driving Jewish voters straight to the polls in November, where they will vote for Democrats.
The silence of Republicans has been deafening in the face of rising anti-Semitism, and they have done nothing to stop neo-Nazis, Holocaust deniers, and white supremacists from running for office as Republicans.
The organization with which we are affiliated, the Jewish Democratic Council of America, has publicly expressed concern about three Democratic candidates’ positions on Israel. At the same time, there are 467 Democratic candidates running for Congress this cycle, substantially all of whom share our support for a strong US-Israel relationship. The notion that a small number of obscure and outlying views on Israel may influence mainstream Democratic positions in Congress or Jewish votes in the midterms is simply false. Support for the US-Israel relationship remains incredibly strong among Democrats, and Israel remains a priority for Jewish voters. But don’t take our word for it.
National polling conducted earlier this month by the Mellman Group – sponsored by the Jewish Electorate Institute, a non-partisan 501(c)(3) organization – found that 74% of Jewish voters will vote for Democratic candidates in the midterms. This is higher than the total number of Jews who identified themselves as Democrats (68%), demonstrating that some support for Democratic candidates from Jewish voters will come from Independents or even Republicans. Moreover, party identification with Democrats is over 20 points higher in the Jewish community than among the American electorate generally. Jewish voters are Democrats, and that’s not changing.
An overwhelming number of Jewish voters said Trump is on the wrong side of almost every issue: 70% or more of Jewish voters disapprove of his handling of anti-Semitism, the Iran nuclear deal, foreign policy, immigration, Supreme Court nominations, gun safety, the environment, and healthcare. Importantly, these are the very issues compelling Jews to vote for Democrats in the midterms. The silence of Republicans has been deafening in the face of rising anti-Semitism, and they have done nothing to stop neo-Nazis, Holocaust deniers, and white supremacists from running for office as Republicans. Moreover, Republicans in Congress have been complicit in enacting policies that have callously shut our borders to those in need, torn children from their parents, and sought to deny access to affordable healthcare. Republicans will face the consequences of their silence and complicity in November.
The Mellman poll found that Jewish voters prioritize domestic policy issues when determining which candidates to support in November, but are also not compromising on Israel. Of those polled, 92% of Jewish voters consider themselves “pro-Israel” and 84% of Democrats see the party as pro-Israel. Most Jewish voters also disapprove of the way Trump has handled key issues affecting Israel such as withdrawal from the Iran nuclear agreement, moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, and managing U.S. relations with Palestinians. This data leads to an irrefutable conclusion – Trump’s attempts to pander to Jewish voters on Israel have failed, and will not yield Jewish votes for Republicans in November.
There has been no diminution of support for the US-Israel relationship among Democrats. The Jewish Democratic Council of America is committed to preserving bipartisan support for Israel in Congress because we believe it is in both America’s and Israel’s national security interest, and because it is consistent with American values. We are deeply concerned, however, about ongoing Republican attempts to use Israel as a political wedge issue for their perceived political gain. This poll proves this is a failing proposition and that Jewish voters will reject Republicans and the GOP agenda overwhelmingly in the midterms.
This is not just about partisanship. The Jewish community is a values-driven constituency, this is a values-driven election, and Republicans and President Trump are on the wrong side of history because they have betrayed our values.
Halie Soifer is Executive Director of the Jewish Democratic Council of America and former National Security Advisor for Senator Kamala Harris. Ron Klein is Chairman of the Jewish Democratic Council of America and a former Member of Congress from Florida.