In one election only since 1916 have a plurality of Jews not voted for the Democratic Party presidential candidate. This was in 1920 when Mr. Harding trounced Mr. Cox in a landslide, and when Eugene Debs, the Socialist Party candidate, garnered 38% of the Jewish vote. Even in modern Republican blow-outs, Jews voted for the Democratic canditate by wide margins.
Since 1960, Jews have voted for
Here's a chart, after which I'll share two senses of this, mine and another writer's.
*Number as percentage of popular vote
My sense of this I have made plain in numbers of posts. From the early twentieth-century on, Democratic Party candidates have more clearly demonstrated ever-increasing commitments to the economic and social values, first articulated in the Levitical and Talmudic Justice-demands about how we see one another together in the open boat we're all in on this tumbling sea, as responsible to one another as we are to ourselves.
As such, American Jewish voters have taken very seriously the needs and rights of the poor, workers, racial and gender minorities, and the idea that those whom America has blessed economically owe it to themselves, to our fellow citizens, and to the consistent message and warnings of the Prophets, to demonstrate consistent care broadly because we see society as a fundamentally communitarian enterprise even as we foster and applaud the achievements of individuals.
The writer Sarah Posner of 'Religious Dispatches' offers another view (though not one that challenges my explanation). Her focus is different. She asks why Republicans so consistently use Israel as a tool to pry Jews loose from the Democratic Party particularly when the track record suggests it's a bad investment of campaign time/money. Ms. Posner writes:
Most [Jews] vote for Democrats. Every cycle the Republicans try to improve on their last performance, but Jews are overwhelmingly liberal. So Republicans try to draw them in by talking about Israel, an issue very few of them vote on, but an issue that has the added benefit of helping Republicans shore up their evangelical base."
Now, clearly many American Jews do vote with Israel's security in mind. I do. I am clear-as-a-bell that my life and my family's is tied in to a militarily, economically, intellectually robust Israel. Unlike some of my Jewish friends, I am confident that this President strongly has Israel's back and, in addition, I vote with Israel as one of a number of issues that are very important to me. I also vote knowing that no Democratic presidential candidate since President Truman recognized the State of Israel in 1948 has or will let the US commitment to Israel lapse or even fade. In addition to Israel's being the sole representative democracy in its region, Israel's intelligence agencies are and have been, even prior to formal statehood, the eyes and ears of the OSS and the CIA in central Europe, North Africa, and in the Near East.
Nevertheless, while I respect my fellow Jews who do not vote as I do, they are and will remain a distinct minority among us for the reasons Ms. Posner and I educe here.