Can Republicans Replace Muslims With Jews?
Jews are voting Republican in increasing numbers in recent elections. As indicated by increasingly harsh rhetoric, the GOP has lost the Muslim vote probably permanently.
After 9/11, American Muslims largely switched sides to the Democratic party, noting that Republican policies had made their lives more difficult than they were before the attacks. A 2011 Pew survey found that Muslim support had flipped in just over 10 years after 78 percent of Muslims backed Republicans in the 2000 election. By 2011, 70 percent of Muslims identified as Democrats, and 11 percent leaned toward Republicans. An informal exit poll conducted by the Council on American-Islamic Relations in 2012 determined that 85 percent of Muslim voters in the election broke for President Barack Obama over his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney.
Muslims represented 0.4 percent of the population in 2007, according to a Pew survey, and rose to 0.9 percent in 2014. The Christian population dropped from 78.4 percent to 70.6 percent during that time. Muslim voters may be a small portion of the American population, they are concentrated in some of the states that could play a decisive role in 2016, including Florida, Ohio, Virginia and Pennsylvania.
The GOP seems to be divided between ignorant bigots claiming that American Jews are really only loyal to Israel and mystified conservatives wondering why American Jews do not vote more for the GOP when they seem to be so much more pro-Israel. Most American Jews care about Israel at least in an abstract way, but think of themselves as Americans who happen to be Jewish often just by ancestry. That is why the GOP’s pro-Israel positions do not do more to win over Jewish voters. Of course this will not illuminate anything for conservatives who just hate Jews as no mere facts are going to change their minds.
There is good news, however. The same generational shift that moved other ethnic whites from being overwhelmingly Democrats to Republicans back in the seventies and eighties is happening amongst Jews now. In 1992, George HW Bush got eleven percent of the Jewish vote; that percentage has increased in almost every presidential election since then (it went down slightly in 2008, before rebounding in 2012). In 2012, Mitt Romney got thirty percent of the Jewish vote.
The data for congressional elections is not so easily available, but in 2014, thirty-three percent of the Jewish vote went for Republicans. Younger Jews appear to be more right-leaning than older Jews, and will tend to become more right-leaning as they age. With about 2% of the population being Jewish (doubling the Muslim population of approximately 1%), the GOP is making great strides with Jews whom, in another generation, will look much more like the white voting electorate.