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Donald Trump says Jews are leaving the Democratic Party, but there’s no proof
Amy Sherman
By Amy Sherman March 14, 2019

President Donald Trump mimicked the commentary of a Fox News guest about Jewish Americans leaving the Democratic Party following controversial comments by U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn.

Trump tweeted this on March 12:

"Jewish people are leaving the Democratic Party. We saw a lot of anti Israel policies start under the Obama Administration, and it got worsts [sic] & worse. There is anti-Semitism in the Democratic Party. They don’t care about Israel or the Jewish people.’ Elizabeth Pipko, Jexodus."

Trump’s tweet combines some comments made earlier in the day on Fox & Friends by Pipko, spokeswoman for Jexodus. The new group aims to get young Jews to vote for Republicans. The Jewish vote has been a solid bloc for Democrats for decades.  

Trump has tried to appeal to Jewish voters, saying that the Democratic Party is "anti-Israel" and "anti-Jewish" after a House resolution that broadly condemned hate didn’t specifically condemn Omar. She drew criticism for comments suggesting U.S. lawmakers are influenced on Israel by money and that Jews have dual loyalties.

We wondered if Jewish voters are ditching the Democrats after decades of party loyalty. We found no evidence to support the claim that Jewish voters have broken their long-term loyalty to the Democratic party. But we’re not rating Trump’s claim on the Truth-O-Meter, because there isn’t 2019 polling data of Jewish voters.

After PolitiFact asked about Trump’s recent comments, Gallup said it would be at least several months for U.S. polling to be able to document whether Jews leave the party over some of its members’ views on U.S. policy toward Israel.

"Although Trump has waded into the controversy, he has relatively few supporters among Jewish Americans," Gallup wrote. "In fact, Jewish Americans were among the least likely to approve of Trump of all religious groups in 2018, with just 26 percent approving and 71 percent disapproving."

Polls show Jews consistently vote for Democrats

Jews are more Democratic and liberal than the electorate as a whole, University of Florida professor Kenneth Wald wrote in his recent book The Foundations of American Jewish Liberalism.

In the November 2018 midterms, 79 percent of Jews voted for Democrats for Congress, higher than 2014, but lower than 2006. Data from 2010 wasn’t available.

Jews have consistently voted Democratic for president by wide margins, though the margin fluctuates.

Source: Pew Research Center

Obama won 78 percent of the Jewish vote in 2008, according to Pew Research analysis of national exit poll data.

The support dropped in 2012 when Obama drew 69 percent of the Jewish vote, according to Pew.

But while Mitt Romney did better than other Republicans in recent cycles, Ronald Reagan drew a higher percentage of Jewish voters.

In 2016, Trump drew 24 percent of the Jewish vote, a drop from Romney. Hillary Clinton got 71 percent, slightly more than Obama in 2012.

Another way to look at the data is how Jews identify their party affiliation.

Pew Research survey data shows only small fluctuations. In 2008, 72 percent of Jews identified as Democrats or leaned Democrat, dropping by 1 point in 2012 and then rising to 74 percent in 2016. In 2017, Jewish Democratic identity dropped to 67 percent, at a similar level as many other non-election years since Obama. Pew didn’t ask the identity question in 2018.  

"The bottom line is Republicans have been trying for over 30 years to attract Jewish voters based on Israel and it hasn’t worked," Wald said.

Most Americans don’t cast votes based solely on Israel, Wald said. Also, most Jews haven’t seen any real distance between the two parties on Israel, and the Democratic Party is more closely aligned to Jewish opinions on other issues, he said.

Wald hadn’t seen any polling data of Jewish voters after Omar’s comments, which started in February.

"She said things that do worry Jews, but I think also they understand she is not a significant voice yet in the House — she is one representative who has gotten publicity," he said.

Ira Sheskin, a Jewish demographer at the University of Miami, said Orthodox Jews are the only subgroup that have become more Republican. But Orthodox Jews account for about 10 percent of the Jewish population.

Finally, the Jewish electorate does not have a high opinion of President Trump.

A 2018 American Jewish Committee poll found 71 percent had an unfavorable view of Trump, and 57 percent disapproved of the way he was handling U.S.-Israel relations. He also drew criticism for saying there were fine people on "both sides" of a protest in Charlottesville, Va., where white supremacists chanted "Jews will not replace us."

Our conclusion

Trump said Jewish people are leaving the Democratic Party.

Obama’s support among Jewish voters did drop between 2008 and 2012, but Jewish support ticked up slightly for Hillary Clinton. The level of Jewish support for Democratic presidential candidates remains well over 60 percent.

While there are concerns among many Jews about recent statements by a Minnesota representative, there is no current evidence to suggest that Jewish voters are leaving the Democratic Party.


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Our Sources

President Donald Trump, Tweet, March 12, 2019

Jexodus, Accessed March 12, 2019

House resolution, March 7, 2019

The Hill, Trump promotes 'Jexodus' after 'Fox & Friends' segment, March 12, 2019

Kenneth Wald book, The foundations of American Jewish liberalism, January 2019

Pew Research Center, Trends in party affiliation among Democratic groups, March 20, 2018

Pew Research Center, How the faithful voted: A preliminary 2016 analysis, Nov. 9, 2016

Pew Research Center, How religious groups voted in the midterm elections, Nov. 7, 2018

AJC Survey of American Jewish Opinion, June 2018

AJC Survey of American Jewish Opinion, 2016

Gallup, One in Six U.S. Jews Identify as Republican, March 14, 2019

Solomon Project, Jewish American Voting Behavior Just the Facts 1972-2008, 2012

Politico, Lesson learned: White House mentions Jews in Holocaust Remembrance statement, 2018

Breitbart, Model Elizabeth Pipko: ‘Jexodus’ Helps Jewish Millennials Leave the Antisemitic Left, March 6, 2019

New York Post, Very model of a modern Don backer, Jan. 7, 2019

New York Times, Are Jared and Ivanka Good for the Jews? Nov. 17, 2018

Washington Post, For American Jews, already split over Trump, divide deepens after attack, Oct. 30, 2018

Washington Post, Republicans are trying to make ‘Jexodus’ happen, but most Jews still vote Democratic, March 13, 2019

Washington Post, No, President Trump, America’s Jews will not be joining you in the GOP, March 12, 2019

Washington Post The Fix, Trump says the Democrats are ‘anti-Jewish.’ The numbers don’t bear that out, March 9, 2019

Washington Examiner, Why a mass Jewish voter exodus from the Democratic Party is unlikely in 2020, March 12, 2019

Daily Wire, JEXODUS: Jewish Millennials Launch A ‘Liberation Movement’ From The Democratic Party, March 7, 2019

Sun Sentinel, Donald Trump is the ‘worst perpetrator of purveying anti-Semitism,’ Wasserman Schultz says, March 11, 2019

Sun Sentinel Jewish Journal, Jewish groups mixed regarding House resolution against anti-Semitism, March 12, 2019

ADL, Anti-Semitic Incidents Surged Nearly 60% in 2017

Republican Jewish Coalition, RJC Launches "Obama... Oy Vey!!" Billboard Campaign in South Florida, Sept. 11, 2012

USA Today, Trump criticizes Democrats for passing resolution condemning hate, March 8, 2019

Interview, Kenneth Wald, University of Florida retired professor of American Jewish Culture & Society, March 12, 2019

Interview, Ira Sheskin, University of Miami professor of demography, March 12, 2019

Interview, Steven Windmueller, Hebrew Union College emeritus professor of Jewish communal service, March 12, 2019

Interview, Herbert Weisberg, Emeritus Professor of Political Science at the Ohio State University, March 12, 2019

Interview, Neil Strauss, Republican Jewish Coalition, March 13, 2019

Interview, Jim Gerstein, GBA Strategies founding partner, March 13, 2019

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