The next election cycle is well along, and with it will come a whole array of challenging issues. As with previous elections, this writer has sought to unpack not only general trends but more directly focus on Jewish political behavior.
Jewish voters offer a distinctive political perspective, as borne out by the latest JEI (Jewish Electorate Institute, June 2023) polling report:
- …Jewish voters continue to be firmly entrenched in the Democratic camp. Biden holds a high job approval rating (67 percent), while 19% of Jewish voters support President Trump. According to this survey, President Biden currently leads Donald Trump 72% to 22%.
- On the Issues: Abortion is at the center of the cultural divide and continues to be a defining issue – 88 percent believe it should be legal (compared to 62 percent of all Americans) and 80 percent are concerned that women no longer have the constitutional right to an abortion (including 73 percent very concerned).
- Israel: Jewish voters continue to feel emotionally attached to Israel (72 percent). They hold negative views toward Prime Minister Netanyahu (28 percent favorable/62 percent unfavorable).
Where Will Jewish Republicans go in 2024? This would appear to be an open question for many. While clearly Jewish Trump supporters see him as their choice, other Republican Jewish voters appear to remain uncertain. Clearly, in a field of 15 announced candidates, there are a number that appeal to specific sectors of GOP Jewish voters as well as to some independents. Considering that the former President polled a significantly higher number in 2020, where will those non-Trump voters turn in 2024?
Beyond specific Jewish voting patterns and Jewish political interests, there are a number of broader policy questions that will be key factors in understanding the 2024 campaign:
The Cultural Wars over America: This election will be a proxy for a broader social conflict over how we understand and engage with our history and national story. Among the compelling issues, should monuments be torn down, especially if they represent or depict a particular historical or political perspective? How as a society shall we address race, sexual identity, and gender? What is our stance as a society on equity, inclusion and diversity?
This will have a profound impact on how both Jews see themselves and how others understand Jews in a disruptive and uncertain American civic environment.
Reclaiming “Truth”: The role of “truth” in American politics, once again takes on a significant presence. How politicians manage truth and how the media deals with misinformation. Election integrity issues will no doubt again play out in 2024.
The War over Personal Conduct and Behavior: Republicans are seeking to control certain personal/family practices as they relate to the issues of abortion, gender and sexuality. Conversely, Democrats, it would appear, have assumed a type of libertarian stance today in a changing political landscape.
For decades, Jews have been seen in the forefront of the abortion debate, and more recently have been identified as defenders of sexual and gender rights. These issues, for certain among liberal Jewish voters, will be profoundly significant as we approach the 2024 campaign.
Changing Representations: If historically Democrats were seen as the party of the “left-out” worker, rural farmer, and specific minority constituencies, increasingly the Republican Party has sought to claim this mantle of representation, and quite successfully, as the GOP has grown its footprint with some of these constituencies!
Supreme Court and the Voters: Various polls suggest that Americans are responding to the recent court renderings along partisan lines. A Marquette Survey noted that 76% of Democrats reacted unfavorably to the Court’s performance, whereas 69% of Republicans embraced the actions of the Court.
Based on Jewish voter attitudes, the Supreme Court and its rulings are seen as significantly important to this cohort.
The Growing Role of Independent Voters: Independents will play a key role in 2024. Currently, 2/3rds of “independent” voters oppose Donald Trump. But one-half of these voters are also concerned about the age of President Biden.
Among younger Jews, we note a significant hike in the number of “independent” voters, so increasingly political scientists will be monitoring how the growth of this sector is likely to influence political outcomes.
Reinventing American Democracy: We are encountering a series of revisionist views concerning the nature and character of this democracy. From “Christian Nationalism” to “independent state legislature theory,” there exists a growing body of ideas that are seeking redefine this nation’s identity and its politics.
The Weariness and Political Fatigue Factors represent concerns of both parties, who worry whether they can turn out the numbers of voters both in the primaries and most certainly for the November 5, 2024, election! This will mark the 60th time in American history when our citizens will be expected to elect a President. It is not uncommon however to identify a level of voter disconnect a year prior to a presidential election. What would be more concerning if such apathy is still being manifest in the fall of 2024.
The Changing Voter Constituencies: Millennials and Gen Z-ers will comprise a majority of potential voters by 2028. By 2036, these generational cohorts will comprise 60% of the voter rolls. Although younger voter turnout has been trending upwards, many younger voters don’t actually vote. About one-half of eligible younger voters (18-29) actually participated in the 2020 campaign. This voting cohort accounted for about 23% of the 2022 vote, which was higher than in 2014, when only 13% of younger voters participated.
What States Will Likely Be in Play? With more than a year out, many analysts believe that at this point Florida, Texas and Ohio are most likely situated in the Republican column for 2024, leaving six states that are seen to be in play: Pennsylvania, Georgia, Arizona, Wisconsin, Michigan, and North Carolina, collectively these states have 87 of the 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House.
In several of these key states (Pennsylvania and Arizona and to a lesser degree Georgia), the “Jewish vote” can be particularly significant in determining the outcomes: (6)
North Carolina .04%
Aside from these “purple” states, it is projected that the Democrats should secure 232 electoral votes, while Republicans will garner 219, thereby making these “swing states” critical to the outcome.
The Big Issues: Most analysts project the following line up in connection with the primary issues for 2024:
LGBT Rights (transgender rights)
State of the Economy
Election Integrity Issues
Should this election be close, the American role in support of Ukraine could emerge as a key issue in some swing states, as Republicans are seen as divided in their support.
Closing: As I have previously noted: 
Jews are today central political players, and as such, have a stake in the welfare of the democracies in which they reside. They perform a variety of political roles, as voters, government leaders, advocates and funders. How they perform and what they believe reflect not only personally held convictions but also incorporates the ideas and behaviors of their religious tradition and cultural experiences.