Donald Trump says Jews are leaving the Democratic Party, but there’s no proof

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.