Steven Windmueller
Where Jews and Judaism Meet the Political Road!

The 2024 Political Sweepstakes: The General Story, and there is a Jewish One

Voters are already telling us a great deal already about next year’s election.  While some folks are currently dismissing both major political party candidates for President, there is more generally a broad and deep disconnect among voters with what is more broadly unfolding in this nation.  

What maybe the biggest take away from the current political polling? The 2024 election will be a referendum on America and its political climate.

A significant portion of voters, and not just Republicans, are uncomfortable and even angry with the state of American politics. Donald Trump’s candidacy affords for many of these individuals a way that they can convey their distrust and unhappiness concerning the state of American politics. His political presence has become a counter-cultural symbol of their rejection of the existing political order. For next November it may be less about Donald Trump’s candidacy and more about what his presence on the ticket may represent.

Conversely, one can argue that the political results from this past week’s off-year election cycle bode well for Democrats! The abortion issue provided the impetus for Democratic wins in various state elections. But will that be as significant in a national campaign in one year? In this moment, economic factors, the issue of immigration, and the general state of American politics may serve as the basis of the 2024 campaign, not to mention the focus on both the worthiness and readiness of the two current prime nominees, Donald Trump and Joe Biden!

A growing interest on the part of some voters, and most assuredly a group of politicians, involves a desire to field an alternative slate of candidates. One year out, if these current polling numbers suggest anything about next November, several factors will be in play. Will we likely have multi-parties contesting for the Presidency?

One of the keys in these early polls involves voter enthusiasm, and here the Republicans appear to be outperforming Democrats. For the Democrats, two core questions are apparent: How attractive is their ticket? Are voters burned out exhausted from these past eight years in dealing with the “Trump Effect”? 

Based on recent polling data, Biden is currently underperforming his 2020 numbers with each of the four major constituent groups that contributed to his victory three years ago: women-blacks-Latinos-younger voters. The Democrats will likely lose the White House and possibly more if they are unable to win back voters in each of these critical voting categories.

We would remind ourselves that political parties are a means to an end. They facilitate candidates while representing a particular ideological bent, but when parties are no longer seen as being responsive to the broad social concerns of the public, their relevancy and power are brought into question, especially if they nominate candidates who have lost the public’s broad-based support! The rise of third parties is a direct result of what we are observing within the electorate.

Projecting the Jewish Vote in 2024:

How will October 7th and the Gaza conflict impact Jewish voters in connection with November 2024? At this moment, this calculation remains extremely hard to measure. Joe Biden has scored well over these past four years with Jewish voters and is drawing particular praise with the onset of the Hamas crisis for his administration’s statements and actions on behalf of Israel. But October 7th and its aftermath may also have a residual political impact for Jews, who remain concerned with the anti-Zionist messages of the Democratic Progressive Left and the bleeding of Israel support among the rank and file of Democratic voters. How the President and his party will be able to manage harnessing and controlling this anti-Israel sector will be critical to Biden’s ultimate success with voters.

Over the past quarter of a century, Israel has not been a central voting concern for Jews but that may not be the case for November 2024. We in fact must add two other factors in connection with the Jewish vote. There is a deep dislike among Jewish voters for Donald Trump, which may rule out a significant switch on their part to the GOP.   Growing anti-Semitism, the second consideration, will no doubt be of some significance, but it remains uncertain how that issue will specifically influence Jewish political behavior next year.

As noted above, there will be several third-party nominees, and if so motivated, will some Jewish voters’ trend to one of these alternative options, among them Robert Kennedy and possibly a nominee to lead the No Labels Party or to other possible political choices that may emerge? If history is of any value here, third parties have at times attracted a significant Jewish response!

Starting this winter, it will be essential to “follow the political money”, identifying where Jewish political activists are investing their campaign dollars?

Further, it will be important to see how the various candidates elect to manage the “Jewish issues” as part of their campaign strategies, moving forward.

In connection with the Presidential election, the first core question, how will self-interest issues impact the Jewish community, i.e., Israel and anti-Semitism? Possibly, for the first time in some decades, we will likely see parochial Jewish interests competing with more generic concerns in determining next year’s Jewish voting behaviors.

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.