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Jewish voting is distinctive and paradoxical. Stereotypes about the voting habits of American Jews include that they vote at unusually high levels, that they’re liberal, that they vote for Democratic candidates without regard to their self-interest, and that Israel is their most important issue. Not only are all of those claims wrong, but they obscure aspects of Jews’ voting behavior that are much more interesting.
The Politics of American Jews uncovers new perspectives on Jews’ political choices by analyzing the unprecedented amount of survey data that is now available, including surveys that permit contrasting the voting of Jews with that of comparable non-Jews. The data suggest several mysteries about Jewish voting. While more Jews are Democrats than are liberals, there has not been a previous exploration of why more politically conservative Jews are not Republicans.
A fresh picture of Jews’ political behaviors shows that Jews are no longer politically monolithic. They vote on the basis of their self-interest and their values, but not all Jews share the same self-interest or the same values. While most Jews have incorporated being Democratic and liberal into their political DNA, growing divisions in their ranks suggest a mutation could occur.
“A well-researched, sensible and nuanced perspective on American Jewish politics. Weisberg’s perspective on the role of tradition, on libertarianism, and on the ‘attitude triad’ that connects Jews to the Democratic Party should shape discussions of the field for years to come.”
—Jonathan D. Sarna, Professor of American Jewish History, Brandeis University, and author of American Judaism: A History
“This book will be the ‘go to’ reference for anyone wanting information on the Jewish vote because of its extensive presentation and analysis of survey data from a variety of sources.”
—Ira Sheskin, University of Miami
“The Politics of American Jews illuminates one of the most fascinating yet underexplored pieces of the American religious mosaic. Weisberg goes beyond bromide and conjecture to dig deeply into the data on Jewish political behavior—highlighting both the unity and diversity within the Jewish population. If you want to understand the past, present, and likely future of American Jews’ role in American politics, read this book.”
—David Campbell, University of Notre Dame
“In this important book, Weisberg extends the Michigan Model of partisanship and voting to American Jews. It is a book that all students of religion and politics, and of political behavior, need to read and keep on their shelf.”
—Clyde Wilcox, Georgetown University in Qatar
“American Jews are an undersized share of the American electorate with an oversized presence in American politics. Discussions about what role Jews play, whether they will be pivotal forces in party alignments and major policies, have long occupied a large amount of bandwidth in our political discourse, even more so during the Trump presidency. While there have been many articles and several books written about Jews and American politics, none have the depth, breadth and insight of Herb Weisberg’s masterful analysis of where Jews are, where they have been and where they are going—while looking at them not as a singular group but as a varied one with different religious identities and complicated social, economic, political and cultural dynamics. This book will stand for a long time as the definitive work on Jews and American politics.”
—Norm Ornstein, The American Enterprise Institute
"I find most original and interesting the author’s discussion of factors with the potential to undermine Jewish political unity... His book draws on major theories and concepts from contemporary social science—social identity, issue-based voting, group attachment, minority consciousness—to make sense of the findings and demonstrate how work on Jewish political behavior contributes to the larger scholarly literature."
—Politics and Religion