By: Ian Gatlin
Leading up to election night, Fox and NBC polls depicted Hillary as having a 5 point lead ahead of Trump. Then on the eve of the election, Bloomberg cast Hillary with a 3 point lead, while the LA Times showed Trump leading with the same 3 points. They needed one final push to sway voters. Jews were just one of the targets along with Hispanics and Blacks.
Post-election statistics about the vote are slowly trickling out. While the major trends are still being articulated, one thing is apparent. Jewish voters did not cast their ballots for the Democratic nominee in the same numbers that they did in 2008. In this year’s election, 71 percent of Jews nationwide cast their vote for Hillary Clinton. In the Kerry and Gore elections, this number was slightly greater and neared the 80th percentile. In 2008 Obama secured 78% of their votes. Are these numbers new?
No. For most of the past century, Jews have continually supported Democratic candidates. The largest factor for this is the Party’s appeal to minority groups. Democrats have been proponents of social justice and their platform often supports minority rights. In the 1930’s, many Jews allied with Democrats and were installed in political positions, offering them a chance to battle Nazism and Fascism. So some loyalty remains, and being witnesses to political persecution because of faith and culture places them as a minority still identifying with Democratic positions. Most especially, the Democratic platform’s stance on the Separation of Church and State is a primary attraction.
Then in an election involving religious and racial undertones, why weren’t Hillary’s Jewish supporters more numerous? With Trump calling Jews miserly to their faces at the Republican Jewish Coalition and tweets of Hillary’s face plastered against the Star of David with corrupt money, why didn’t Jews rally against the anti-semitism? Many questions in the exit polls are citing the policies of the current Administration as a reason. More conservative Jews saw the Iranian-Nuclear Deal as Democratic alignment with an enemy of the State of Israel. Along with this, many Jews are afraid of the new atheism movement within the Democratic party. This movement has voiced more sympathy for Palestinians and causes unrest among Jewish voters. Why does this matter at all?
Jews were already locked in, they usually vote for Democrats in a near 2 to 3 ratio. With the remaining Jews falling into the conservative branch of politics and aligning with evangelicals and their ideas of Christian Zionism, why pursue them further? Why would these voters be more responsive to extra pandering than Latinos and Blacks? Blacks and Latinos were direct targets of most of Trump’s comments. Blacks and Hispanics comprise roughly 24 percent of the vote. Even with Hillary trying to court these voters, it was not enough. She did not experience a large enough increase in support from these demographics. And, she did not experience support from them in the same way that Obama did. In connection, her campaign was blindsided by a surge of populist voters, uneducated whites, and new voters that they were unable to gauge before election night.
In places across the country, and particularly Florida, Hillary’s campaign organized transit to and from the polling place for the elderly and the poor. According to ABC, Hillary spent 37 million dollars campaigning in the Sunshine State while Donald only spent 1 million. In a state that boasts 60% of its electorate as being white, she needed to spend more time attempting to draw Hispanic and Black voters to change dynamics in Florida. This same thinking should have been applied to not only Florida, but the entire nation.
In lieu of these dynamics, it is a safe assumption that the Clinton campaign saw Trump’s rhetoric alone as an asset for gaining minority voters – but it did not end up being the hoorah that they were expecting. And in the end, many in the working class that voted for Obama in previous elections, felt that Trump’s message was stronger than Clinton’s.