Commentary Magazine


The Iron Grip of Liberalism on American Jewry

As with the American Jewish Committee poll, a new Gallup poll provides further evidence that even among the most loyal Democratic voters—Jews—some of the luster is wearing off Obama, albeit not as much as one might expect.

Gallup shows that, just as elucidated in Norman Podhoretz’s book Why Are Jews Liberals?, Jews are the voters most tightly wedded to Obama and to the Democratic party. General approval among all voters in Gallup’s survey stands at 52 percent. For Jews it is 64 percent, by far the highest among all religious groups and nearly dead-even with atheists and agnostics. If one focuses on just white, non-Hispanic voters, it is even more stark: “Two-thirds of white Jews (66%) approve of the job Obama is doing, compared with 44% of whites nationwide, 45% of white Catholics, and 37% of white Protestants.”

The reason is simple: Jews affiliate with the Democratic party more strongly than any other group—by a lot. Sixty-six percent of Jews say they are Democrats or lean toward the Democrats, only 47 percent of Catholics, 43 percent of Protestants, and 20 percent of Mormons do.

But even among Jews, there is rising discontent with Obama. In January, 83 percent of Jews approved of Obama’s performance, while now “only” 64 percent do. But this is telling:

Importantly, the decline in approval of Obama among Jews since January is no greater than that seen among the general public. This suggests that since Obama became president, his actions on Middle East policy issues—particularly relating to Iran and the Israeli-Palestinian dispute—have not had a disproportionately negative (or positive) impact on his image among U.S. Jews.

So once again we see that Jews remain, despite ample reason to lose faith in Obama, more supportive of him than any other religious group (and Americans more generally). The grip of liberalism remains tight, despite policies and rhetoric that on their objective merits would seem alienating to American Jews. The explanation seems rather simple: the majority of Jews care more about the liberal-Democratic creed than about anything else, more than the president’s anti-Israel policies and more than economic self-interest. It is, as Podhoretz explained, a religious-like fervor that keeps many Jews from straying from the Democratic fold.

That attachment may, however, not be entirely impervious to outside influences. And we are seeing just how far Obama can go before he loses the support of the majority of his most devoted flock of followers.