Independent Is the New Democrat

Jewish Americans have been a reliable Democratic bloc for much of U.S. electoral history. However, recent numbers from the Pew Research Center hint at a potential demographic shift in voting patterns. Barack Obama’s hold on the Jewish vote is shrinking—since 2009, Jewish Democratic affiliation has dropped nearly 10 percent, according to surveys by the American Jewish Committee. However, Republicans aren’t reaping the benefits— Jewish affiliation with the Republican Party has increased by only 1 percent. Instead, Jewish voters are heading to the middle ground of independents—along with a record number of other voters, as shown in a recent Gallup Poll.

The number of Jewish independents has increased 8 percent. However, trending independent doesn’t mean that these voters have changed their politics—2004 polls showed that the majority of Jewish Independent voters leaned left by a significant majority—but instead that they have lost faith in the two parties.
The loss of some once-guaranteed Jewish votes for Obama reflects current political affairs—Americans are upset that the economy is improving at a glacial pace, and they blame the White House and Congress. The loss of these votes for Obama won’t be detrimental to his campaign, as Jews still trend in his favor. Overall though, attaining the independent vote will be crucial for Obama to secure a second term.