In recent years, Republicans have made inroads into the overwhelmingly Democratic constituency of American Jews. But this year, Republican Jews — or Jewish donors to the Republican party, at least — are abandoning their party’s nominee at a stunningly high rate.
In 2012, 71 percent of the $240 million that Jewish donors gave to the two major-party nominees went to President Obama’s re-election campaign; 29 percent went to Mitt Romney’s campaign, according to our analysis of campaign contributors, which used a predictive model to estimate which donors are Jewish based on their names and other characteristics. This ratio of support mirrors how Jewish voters cast their ballots in 2012.
So far in 2016, of all the money given to major-party candidates by donors who appear to be Jewish, 96 percent has gone to Hillary Clinton and just 4 percent has gone to Donald Trump.
To understand what’s going on here, some context is useful.
In 2008 and 2012, about 70 to 75 percent of voters identifying as Jewish supported President Obama. A recent poll of Jews suggests that 76 percent of those voting for a major-party candidate are leaning toward Clinton. These numbers make Jews one of the most pro-Democratic constituencies in American politics.
But there are also active constituencies of Republicans, including Orthodox Jews, the majority of whom favor Republicans, as well as Jews who are dissatisfied with Obama’s handling of Israel, though there is overlap between these groups. And as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has moved to align himself with Republicans in the U.S., Jews who are supportive of Netanyahu’s policies in Israel may be following suit.