Jews for Obama - The Older The More So
This is posting summarized from articles in the Forward and Haaretz.
Comedian Sarah Silverman has gotten a lot of mileage out of the notion that older Jewish voters, especially those in Florida, need to be persuaded to support Senator Barack Obama. Yet as it turns out, those bubbes and zaydes may be the ones prodding their grandchildren to support the Democratic nominee for president.
Contrary to the perception that young people are in the bag for Obama, polls indicate that younger Jewish voters are more likely than older Jews to support Republican Sen. John McCain for president - though most Jews, both young and old, are still supporting the Democrat.
A survey, compiled from the monthly averages of Gallup's daily tracking polls, including interviews with more than 500 Jewish registered voters each month, found that while a whopping 74% of Jews aged 55 and over were supporting Obama, "only" 67% of those under 35 said they'd vote for the Democratic nominee.
This finding does fit into other data showing that younger Jews are trending conservative politically. A study of the 2004 Jewish vote by the Solomon Project, an effort to record Jews? civic involvement, found younger voters were slightly more likely than older Jews to support Republican George W. Bush over Democrat John Kerry.
Much of the evidence pointing to Republican growth among younger Jews remains anecdotal but fits with the broader demographic trends. Orthodox Jews represent the fastest growing segment of the Jewish community. They have more children, tend to be younger and more conservative politically than less observant Jews. Moreover, the Russian Jewish community, which also trends on the young side, is also overwhelmingly more politically conservative.
These more conservative younger Jews are frequently more free-market oriented, less tied to the big government New Deal programs such as Social Security that older generations of Jews embrace, and more hawkish when it comes to national security and Israel in particular.
Within the younger demographic, however, is another interesting trend: a large gender gap.
Jewish women of all ages voted more heavily for Kerry in 2004 than did Jewish men, and that gap was even more pronounced among younger voters. A full 88% of young Jewish women chose the Democratic candidate, compared to only 60% of young Jewish men. How this fits in with theories that young Jews are more conservative because they are disproportionately more Orthodox or Russian is not clear.
But while younger Jews may favor McCain more than their older relatives, Jewish voters of all ages remain considerably more supportive of Obama compared to their non-Jewish peer groups. 67% of Jews ages 18 to 34 supported Obama compared to only 57.1% of their non-Jewish cohorts. Only 29% of younger Jews supported McCain, compared to 36.9% of non-Jews in that age group.
And with age, the difference between Jewish and non-Jewish voting patterns widens. The 10-point pro-Obama gap noted above, becomes a 30-point margin among older voters, with 74.2% of 55-plus Jews supporting Obama compared to only 44.5% of non-Jews.
Thus if only older Jews voted, this election would be a Democratic blow out never before matched in U.S. history. Those older Jews still have a lot on the ball it seems to me.