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Opinion

No, Israel's defensive campaign in Gaza isn't going to turn American Jews into Republicans

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Philip Klein,Republican Party,Democratic Party,Israel,Gaza

Over at the Hill, Niall Stanage has a story up about how Republicans see an opening to improve their performance among Jewish voters given that the relationship between the Obama administration and the Israeli government became strained during Israel’s defensive campaign in Gaza, but there’s very little reason to believe that it will make a difference.

There are a number of things to keep in mind about the Jewish vote.

To start, most Jews don’t determine their votes on the basis of policy toward Israel. In early 2012, a poll from the Public Religion Research Institute found that just 4 percent of Jewish registered voters considered Israel the most important issue.

This doesn’t mean it isn’t at all a factor, but generally economic and social issues tend to be more important to Jewish voters, and they tend to side with Democrats on those issues.

Additionally, many Jews who say they support Israel have a definition of what it means to support Israel that makes it easier for them to justify standing by Obama and Democrats. For instance, in a Pew poll taken in 2013, majorities of Jewish Democrats tended to think that a two-state solution was possible and that the construction of settlements hurt Israeli security.

If there’s a shift among Jews to the Republican Party, it’s likely to happen more gradually due to other demographic factors. For instance, secular Jews, who are overwhelmingly Democratic, tend to intermarry more and have fewer children than more religious Jews, who are solidly Republican. So it’s possible that decades from now, if religious Jews make up a larger percentage of the American Jewish population, the Jewish vote will move toward the Republicans.

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