Steven Windmueller
Where Jews and Judaism Meet the Political Road!

An Election Like None Other: The 2024 Campaign & America’s Jews

Will we be looking at a Jewish political realignment in 2024?

While the current polling data does not necessarily show such a “bleeding” among Jewish democrats,[1] in fact, recent events may be triggering a Jewish voter response different from what we have experienced before.

The Hamas war unfolding with Israel and the corresponding level and intensity of animosity directed against Jews over these past several months have no doubt created a significant disruption to American Jewry’s sense of security. Despite the extraordinary and forthright leadership of Joe Biden in defense of Israel, there has been a significant rise in anti-Israel sentiments, especially among Democratic Progressives and their allied groups, where Jews are encountering unprecedented anti-Semitism. What are the political implications for such behavior?

In a recent poll, 70% of America’s Jews indicated that they felt “less safe”.[2] When a community believes itself to be under attack, there is also a greater tendency to seek political protection, and this raises the issue as to which political party warrants their political and financial support in such an uncertain environment?

Will these anti-Israel expressions and anti-Semitic actions produce a political tsunami among Jewish voters? While the case for Israel had not been a primary Jewish election cause in this nation for some years, what is transpiring at this time may not only make support for Israel a high priority political outcome in 2024, but could it result as well in a significant shift among Jewish voters?

But there are other factors contributing to the possibilities of a historic break with the Democratic Party. As with other minority communities, many Jews are uncomfortable with the same social and ideological beliefs and behaviors that are driving their fellow Democrats to disconnect from their traditional political home. The alignment of intersectionality, critical race theory and post-modernism have all merged, especially within university circles, to singularly target Israel and Jews as “other”.  The language employed by Israel’s critics, labeling Jews as “occupiers”, “colonialists”, and Zionists, is sending a message that the Jewish community is no longer welcomed in these political spaces. In earlier essays, I have laid out the elements that maybe prompting a different Jewish political outcome.[3]

What role will the issue of American support for Israel play in this forthcoming election?  One scenario finds United States support for the Jewish State as dividing Democratic voters.  In turn, how will Republicans play the Israel card in trying to attract Jewish voters?  Then again, with so many issues impacting voters, it is possible that foreign policy will not serve as a significant factor for many Americans in the forthcoming 2024 campaign.

With an uncertain political season looming ahead, potentially also involving a series of third-party challenges and the potential presence of two relatively unpopular major party candidates, what will likely be the status of the “Jewish vote”?

Two new books are providing interesting and compelling evidence that both working class white voters and non-white constituencies are moving in significant numbers to the Republican Party.  Why are these two core historic constituencies of the Democratic Party leaving, and what are the implications for the Jewish vote?

If Democrats are banking on “the Emerging Democratic Majority,” they may be in for an election surprise. The coalition that they believed would ensure a new majority may not be unfolding and, in its place, there appears to be an alternative trend developing. Two new publications, one by Republican strategist Patrick Ruffini, Party of the People (Simon and Schuster) and Where Have all the Democrats Gone, written by two political scientists, John Judis and Ruy Teixeira (Henry Holt), have recently been released. Judis and Teixeira identify the Democratic Party’s “cultural insularity and arrogance” where transgenderism, critical race theory, climate eschatology, and the lack of immigration enforcement are driving many of these voting groups out of the Party.   “A combination of neoliberal economics and social liberalism” are alienating working class voters.  These writers would add that the decline of unions, a central source of Democratic support, and the embracing of free trade advocacy have further distance these traditional Democratic constituencies.

Both books believe that the Democrats are misreading the concerns and priorities of these disaffected audiences.  As in the past when working class Catholics fled the Democratic Party over the past century, Hispanics, especially second and third generation voters, fearful of illegal immigration and concerned about border security, are turning away now in significant numbers from the Party. Between 2018 and 2022, the Democrats lost 11% of Latino voters, 19% of Asian voters, and 6% of African American voters, according to Ruffini.   If the civil rights agenda was a catalyst for attracting voters into the Democratic Party in the 1960’s, the rise of populism at this time appears to be reframing a new majority.  The Democrats will be unable to win a national election should they be bleeding the support of these key non-white constituencies.

In connection with the rural vote, an even more dramatic outcome is unfolding with this voter cohort.[4] Republicans picked up 65% of the rural vote in 2020, an increase from 59% in 2016. We can recall the New Deal majority from the 1930’s that provided Democrats with their margins of victory, which comprised a coalition of American farmers and white working-class folks. Today, both core constituencies are disappearing from the ranks of the Democratic Party.

And now, where will we likely find the traditionally Democratically aligned Jewish voter as we enter the 2024 political season? In an election, literally like none other, what might we expect?  With the possibility that both major parties will be fielding unpopular candidates, Donald Trump, and Joe Biden, what will be the possible impact of third-party candidates influencing the outcome of this election? While there is clearly no evidence of any significant support for Donald Trump among Jews, where does this leave the 2024 voter?  As this writer has noted elsewhere, over the history of American presidential campaigns, Jews have often been intrigued with and attracted to these alternative choices.[5]

Generally, voting transitions occur over time, as individuals contend with issues of political loyalty while balancing their immediate concerns with the changing landscape of politics. While it remains unclear if or when Jewish voters might “switch” allegiances, what is evident as we prepare for November 2024 are the intensive conversations now underway over the impending American election campaign, and more directly, the specific political “home” that will provide Jews, with their multiple interests, a sense of security and a setting that reflects their immediate as well as longer-term priorities!



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About the Author
Steven Windmueller, Ph.D. is an Emeritus Professor of Jewish Communal Service at the Jack H. Skirball Campus of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles. Prior to coming to HUC, Dr.Windmueller served for ten years as the JCRC Director of the LA Jewish Federation. Between 1973-1985, he was the director of the Greater Albany Jewish Federation (now the Federation of Northeastern New York). He began his career on the staff of the American Jewish Committtee. The author of four books and numerous articles, Steven Windmueller focuses his research and writings on Jewish political behavior, communal trends, and contemporary anti-Semitism.