Why Trump Will Lose, Part IV: Jewish Voters

Previously, I’ve focused on the rising Latino vote but Donald Trump has major problems with another demographic: Jewish voters.

Jews form significant populations in battleground states: “There are 636,000 Jews in Florida, 100,000 Jews in Ohio, 92,000 in Colorado, 77,000 in Virginia, 74,000 in Nevada.”

Jews also tend to punch above their weight due to high voter turnout. For example, according to the American Jewish Population Project, Jews form 3.4% of adults in Florida. But the exit poll indicates that Jews formed 5% of the Florida electorate in 2012. The Jewish population skews older and educated–both strong predictors of voter turnout.

Trump’s Anti-Semitism

Regrettably, this is one of those areas where there is so much to say and so little time. Trump has a very consistent track record of invoking anti-Semitic tropes.

Before the Republican Jewish Coalition, Trump stated “You’re not going to support me because I don’t want your money” followed later by “That’s why you don’t want to give me money. But that’s OK. You want to control your own politician.”

Most recently, Trump once again invoked the idea of Jews using money to control politicians with this tweet:


A Star of David over a pile of money is not exactly the last word in subtle. Trump later claimed that it is a “sheriff’s star” except that Trump wants us to believe that he was comparing Clinton to . . . a sheriff? Like so many Trump explanations, it fails the “don’t pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining” test.

Then, of course, there is the little problem that the tweet was directly copied from a white supremacist website. Which is where, of course, all campaigns source their material.

As with so many other groups, Trump’s anti-Semitic obsession about Jews and money goes way back. Twenty-five years ago, he was quoted as saying:

Black guys counting my money! I hate it. The only kind of people I want counting my money are short guys that wear yarmulkes every day. Those are the kind of people I want counting my money. No one else.

He denigrated Jews and Blacks together, so this one was a twofer. Way to go, Donald!

Jews Skew Liberal–And Trump Will Even Lose Conservative Jews

Nationally, Jews are far more Democratic and liberal than the electorate at large. According to a detailed Pew survey, 70% of Jews are Democrats or lean Democratic compared to just 22% who are Republican or lean Republican. While 49% of Jews say they’re liberal, just 19% claim to be conservative. Trump’s nativist populism seems designed to turn off liberal Jews.

The only subgroup of the Jewish population that is more conservative than liberal are Orthodox Jews (54-12). Ultra-Orthodox Jews being especially conservative (64-7) compared to Modern Orthodox Jews (41-22). However, only 10% of American Jews are Orthodox and only 6% are Ultra Orthodox.

But Trump is putting in maximum effort to alienate them through his statements on Israel. As regards to the Israeli-Palestinian debate, Trump said “Let me be sort of a neutral guy” in response to a question about whose fault it is that the conflict has continued. Equally tellingly, when he discusses the conflict, he sees it entirely from the perspective of making a deal and doesn’t mention Israeli security.

While American Jews overall favor a two-state solution for Israel by 61-33, Orthodox Jewish opinion is 30-61. So Trump’s proclaimed neutrality and eagerness to make a deal goes against the grain of conservative Jewish public opinion. In contrast, as a senator from New York, Hillary Clinton developed a reputation as a steadfast supporter of Israel.

Even conservative Republican Jews acknowledge that Trump just isn’t the guy to win over the Jewish vote. As Noam Neusner, a former speechwriter for George Bush said: “Trump is just anathema to many Jews, including Jewish conservatives.”

A prominent Jewish Republican donor who won’t vote for him said:

He espouses things that are offensive to my Jewish sensibilities and values, like precluding an entire religious group from entering the country, like demeaning women, like demeaning minorities, like demeaning ethnic groups, like demeaning the disabled, like belittling war veterans. . . . So I just find him to be an offensive individual. … He knows nothing about foreign policy, but that hasn’t stopped him from talking about it.

As Conservative Michael Goldfarb explains, Jews aren’t real thrilled about anti-Semitic enthusiasm for Trump:

His most rabid supporters enjoy photoshopping Jewish reporters into concentration camp scenes and ranting about Jewish control of the media and the banks. . . . Trump’s energized the anti-Semites and he shows no interest in disabusing them of the idea that he’s their man. … Until and unless he does, he probably underperforms with the Jews.

No wonder the ADL expresses concern about the guy.

As with so many other minorities, Obama did very well among Jewish voters but there is potential for even further growth. For example, the 2012 exit poll and the Republican Jewish Coalition survey indicate that 66% of Florida Jewish voters cast ballots for Obama in 2012 as compared to 30% for Romney–the small remainder wouldn’t say or voted for other candidates. (The national exit poll numbers were 69-30.)

Surveys done earlier in the 2016 campaign–before the infamous Jewish Star tweet–already indicated that Jews “overwhelmingly view of Donald Trump negatively” and lower levels of Jewish support for Donald Trump than Mitt Romney. Expect Hillary to run up the Jewish vote in swing states.