vision 2020

Poll: Jewish Voters Are Indifferent to Jewish Presidential Candidates

Sanders and Bloomberg, the two Jewish candidates that are left in the field. Photo: Getty Images

There’s been a lot of talk about identity politics with respect to the Democratic presidential nominating contest, and one subtopic has been the relative reluctance of nonwhite voters to support nonwhite candidates, including three politicians (Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, and Julián Castro) who have dropped out of the race for lack of political and financial oxygen.

A new Pew survey that has rarely seen breakouts for religious groups has some interesting findings as well. Among the candidates with any significant level of support, Joe Biden is the one remaining Catholic. He has a solid lead among his co-religionists, with 34 percent of their support (as opposed to the 26 percent he holds among the primary electorate generally), with Bernie Sanders in second at 18 percent, followed by Warren with 10 percent, eight percent for Bloomberg, and seven percent for Buttigieg. (Interestingly enough, Sanders is only four points behind Biden among Hispanic Catholics, reflecting his strength among younger Hispanics).

There are also two Jewish candidates remaining in the race, Bernie Sanders and Michael Bloomberg. According to Pew, they are not very popular among Jewish primary voters. In this demographic, Biden runs first at 31 percent, followed by Warren at 20 percent, Buttigieg at 13 percent, and only then Sanders at 11 percent, and Bloomberg at 8 percent.

It’s possible that a lot of this result reflects the relatively high average age of Jewish voters, since Biden is very much the candidate of older Democrats. It’s still interesting, though.

Now it’s possible to split hairs here: Bloomberg, though not terribly observant, does belong to a synagogue and attends High Holy Day services, while Sanders, who self-identifies as Jewish and had a conventionally Jewish upbringing, no longer belongs to an identifiable Jewish worship community. Perhaps he could be considered both Jewish and religiously unaffiliated? If so, he’s doing pretty well with the latter, as the favorite of the religiously unaffiliated at 28 percent (followed by Warren at 21 percent, Buttigieg at seven percent, and Bloomberg and Yang with four percent each).

Still, to the extent that voters think of Sanders as Jewish, it’s interesting how little that helps either him or Bloomberg among Jews. When Dave Weigel said these two men should form a ticket together, most people probably thought first of the ideological contrast they present. But in the unlikely event that happened, the Sanders–Bloomberg campaign might need to devote some resources to Jewish outreach.

Poll: Jewish Voters Indifferent to Jewish Candidates in 2020