FoxNews: Jewish Americans could show 'significant change' in voting, support Republican candidates in 2024

Monday, October 23, 2023

Elected politicians' stance on Israel's war against Hamas may push some Democrat-leaning Jewish-American voters to reconsider their choices in the 2024 elections, experts said.

Division among Democrats over the war is likely to have a meaningful effect on the presidential race down to local congressional races, insiders and several Jewish voters told Fox News Digital.

Multiple House Democrats – including Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and other members of the far-left "Squad" – have taken aim at President Biden and Democrat leadership over their support for Israel.

"I have not seen this kind of a shift – at least a discussed shift, obviously no one's voted yet – since 1980," Jake Novak, the former media director at the Israeli Consulate in New York, told Fox News Digital. "In 1980, Jimmy Carter still won a majority of the Jewish vote, but it was way down from '76. There were a lot of Jewish voters who were disappointed in him."

Sixty-four percent of Jewish voters in the United States, according to the Pew Research Center, identify as Democrats or left-leaning while 26% consider themselves Republicans or right-leaning. Another 9% do not lean left or right, the think tank's data shows.

Despite the gap in support for Democrats over Republicans from Jewish Americans, Novak, a political analyst, said he expects there to be "significant change" in how the demographic votes next year.

"I don't know if any of the Jews will vote for Trump next November, but I think as far as congressional candidates, there's going to be a lot more Jews voting for Republican candidates and or people who may primary some of the Democratic candidates who have let them down," he said.

He also mentioned that Orthodox Jewish-American voters tend to lean Republican, with polling data ahead of 2020 that showed a majority planned to support Republican Donald Trump over Democrat Joe Biden.

Liberal Jewish Americans may think twice about their votes in the wake of pro-Palestinian comments by lawmakers like Omar and Tlaib, Novak said, possibly coming to the conclusion that the liberal lawmakers aren't speaking for Muslim Americans but rather "representing people who are enemies of the country."

Rabbi Yoni Fein, the head of a southern Jewish school, said he believes Americans of all different backgrounds, especially Jewish Americans, have been awakened as a result of the war between Israel and Hamas.

"I think what’s happened has opened the eyes of all Americans, but certainly Jewish Americans, is the importance of substantive policy stances of our presidential candidates," Fein said. "Instead of focusing on personality and political correctness or catchy slogans, we are seeing the consequences of American policy on the world stage. Economy, foreign policy and security are going to be paramount above all else."

Fein pointed to the nationwide "rise of antisemitism and these protests of anti-American values in the streets of major American cities," saying they should "wake up all voters to the importance of strong leadership that is focused on law and order and protecting the integrity of what made America the greatest country on Earth."

Fran Biderman-Gross, who said she "was in synagogue" when she found out that Hamas militants had launched deadly attacks against Israel this month, says that "current and ongoing acts of terrorism and support for Israel will lead to increased support for candidates aligned with the Jewish-American and anti-terroristic views community's views."

"However, the ultimate impact will depend on political discourse and … how these issues are presented in political discourse," Gross said. "The Biden administration's approach to engaging with those in the middle and on the right is currently unfolding. The trajectory of this engagement will be of paramount importance, given the considerable time remaining until the next election."

Still, some believe there won't be much of a change in the outcome of next year's elections based on the conflict.

"As it now stands, I don't see the American-Jewish vote shifting very much, and I doubt that the candidates will do much to specifically appeal to it – beyond the usual show of support for Israel," said David Bernstein, the author of "Woke Anti-Semitism" and the founder of the Jewish Institute for Liberal Values.

"Trump actually did six points better – going from 24 to 30% – in 2020 than in 2016. So, there's some movement," he added. "The Jewish vote has been remarkably stable in the past 50 years, but Jimmy Carter went from 71% in 1976 to 45% in 1980. That's because his popularity more generally declined but also because he was perceived as cool to Israel."

For a Democrat candidate to "lose significant ground with American Jews," Bernstein said they would "likely have to be viewed as hostile to Israel," which is "not the case with President Biden, who, if anything, increased his stock after his initial speech and then his visit to Israel."

"Of course, a future Democratic candidate may be less supportive – I hope not – and that could have an impact on the Jewish vote," Bernstein added.

As for the presidential election, both GOP-aligned and Democrat-aligned groups with a focus on Jewish voters are gearing up to spread their messages in the months ahead.

Sam Markstein, national political director for the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC), said the Jewish vote "will be, once again, absolutely critical in the 2024 presidential election, making the decisive difference in key battleground states like Pennsylvania, Georgia, Arizona and Nevada – which were all decided by less than 2.5% in 2020."

"Years ago, candidates for elected offices – Republicans and Democrats – could stand up and say, ‘I stand with Israel,’ and it was an automatic applause line; now, unfortunately, you’d be booed off the stage as a Democrat," Markstein said.

"The current situation in Israel has cemented that the Republican Party stands unequivocally with Israel, and RJC is tremendously proud of the unified Republican response in support of the Jewish state; meanwhile, major cracks have been exposed and deepened in the Democratic Party between the mainstream and radical left, which has parroted Hamas terrorist talking points, spread dangerous misinformation about the hospital explosion in Gaza, and attempted to tie the hands of Israel as it defends itself and fights barbarism on its doorstep."

"RJC is confident that Jewish voters will remember where each party stood during these dark days," Markstein added. [emphasis added]

Across the political aisle, at the Jewish Democratic Council of America (JDCA), it was also noted that the Jewish vote "will play a pivotal role in the 2024 presidential election in swing states."

"In June 2023, polling found that 72% of Jewish voters supported President Biden over Donald Trump," said Halie Soifer, CEO of the JDCA. "Biden’s handling of the current crisis in Israel will no doubt increase his support among Jewish voters and could make the difference for President Biden in battleground states.

"Jewish voters see unequivocal support for Israel’s safety and security from President Biden, demonstrated by his trip to Israel last week, the first visit to Israel during wartime by a sitting U.S. president," Soifer continued.

Biden and Democrats are taking "concrete steps" to help Israel while the Republican majority in the House has been locked in a battle over a new speaker that has paralyzed any possibility of an aid package for Israel, Soifer said. Senate Republicans are "delaying" confirmation of a new ambassador to Israel and holding up Pentagon appointments as well, Soifer said.

"Donald Trump’s response to Hamas’ terror attack was to mock Israeli government officials and praise Hezbollah," Soifer said, referencing the former president calling Hezbollah "smart" in the aftermath of the attack.

"The difference between Joe Biden and Donald Trump could not be more clear to Jewish voters, and in 2024, Jewish voters will remember that President Biden and Democrats stood with Israel."

During a press conference held outside the U.S. Capitol on Friday, Omar and a small group of other lawmakers called for a cease-fire in the war.

"How is it that we have a president who is talking about releasing hostages, who is talking about getting American citizens out of Israel, but could not get himself to say, ‘I want to save and work to save the hundreds, thousands of Americans stuck in Gaza.’ What is wrong with you?" Omar said after claiming Israel had dropped more bombs on Gaza in the last 10 days than the U.S. did across an entire year in Afghanistan.

"How is this possible? Wait, so [are] certain Americans' lives [more] important than another? Is the American that is living in Gaza less important than the one living in Israel? How is it that you're telling American citizens to go to the south of Gaza, but you can't tell [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu not to bomb the south because there are Americans there?" she said.

Omar said it was "painful and scary" to work alongside other Democrats who she said were blaming all Muslims for the violence. It was unclear who she was referencing, but progressive Rep. Ritchie Torres, D-N.Y., had taken aim at members of the "Squad" last week over what he called a "reprehensible and repulsive" response to the Oct. 7 Hamas attack.

Earlier last week, Omar walked back comments in which she blamed Israel for a Gaza hospital explosion that U.S. intelligence determined was not from a projectile launched by the Israel Defense Forces. She did not offer an apology.

Fox News' Brandon Gillespie contributed to this report.


This article appeared on Fox News web site on October 23, 2023.