NYT: "Are Liberal Jewish Voters a Thing of the Past?"
Print Friendly and PDF

From the NYT:

Are Liberal Jewish Voters a Thing of the Past? By JOSEPH BERGER SEPT. 13, 2014

FOR generations, American Jews, and particularly Jewish New Yorkers, have largely been identified as ardent liberals.

Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe formed a substantial core of early 20th-century progressives and socialists. More recently, 70 percent of Jews voted for President Obama in 2012, about the same as Hispanics, and were exceeded in their enthusiasm mainly by African-Americans.

Romney didn’t do that miserably among Jews. Obamamania among Jewish voters crested in 2008. Romney got killed among single Jewish women, who play a major role in setting the tone of the softer side of the media, but did, by historical standards, fair to middling among married Jews and single Jewish men.
But that liberal image is poised to change.

A 2012 demographic study by UJA-Federation of New York found that 60 percent of Jewish children in the New York City area — the Jewish center of the United States — live in Orthodox homes, which suggests that in a generation a majority of the city’s one million Jews may be classified as Orthodox. A sizable percentage of those children happen to be Hasidim, the group that has fueled Orthodox growth with its astonishing fecundity. (Seven or eight children per family is common and one Hasidic woman, Yitta Schwartz, had about 2,000 living descendants when she died in 2010.)

Given the far more conservative Hasidic and other Orthodox stances on issues like abortion, the role of women and Middle East politics, that population boom is transforming the traditional Jewish profile in New York.

Most Americans, including most assimilated and secular Jews, know little about the Hasidim and keep their distance from what they see as an anachronistic way of life underscored by the austere and concealing clothes they wear. Yet Hasidim need to be better understood, not just because of their numbers but also because of their tendency to vote in blocs according to the wishes of a sect’s grand rabbi, who often makes his choices based on pragmatic rather than ideological reasons. …

But the Hasidim don’t seem to vote much based on disinterested ideological principles, which makes them accessible to liberal politicians promising to spend other people’s money on them:
More than policy issues, Hasidim seek direct aid for their teeming network of yeshivas for transportation, computers and other technology, as well as for books. And as taxpayers, they want to offset the cost to families of paying tuition for many children, a cost they say public school parents do not incur.
It will be interesting to see how successful the tiny number of Hasidic voters are at getting the same things that the advocates for the huge number of Catholic school parents of a half century ago tried to get and mostly failed.

I wouldn’t bet against them.

Print Friendly and PDF