Gallup came out with a poll today that actually is a bit surprising. Many people thought that more Jews would be voting for the Republican ticket this year than in past years. According to this poll, however, Obama has the support of 74% of Jews (McCain’s support level is 22% of the American Jewish population).
First of all, choosing Sarah Palin sure didn’t help McCain much in this area. Jews don’t tend to identify with a disdain for intellectualism and education, or with stupid people for that matter.
The more interesting thing to me is the breakdown of all Jewish voters by “political ideology” (Gallup’s term, not mine). The percentage of Jews that identify as Liberal remains pretty consistent across across the board (48-49%). The variable here is Moderate v. Conservative, where a significantly larger percentage of younger Jews (18-34) consider themselves Conservative (29%) than their elders (35-54: 17%, 55 and older: 16%).
I think there are two ways to interpret the data. Either younger Jews are simply more willing to identify as Conservatives than older generations, or there appears to be some sort of polarization happening within the younger generation. I think it’s the latter – looking back at the breakdown by presidential preference, the only age group in which voting for Obama seems to mirror identification as Liberal+Moderate is the youngest one. Assuming nearly all Liberals are Obama supporters, and nearly all Conservatives McCain supporters, older Moderates seem to be split between Obama and McCain.
In any case, a lack of willingness to self-identify as Conservatives can still be seen in the two older age-groups. In each of these groups, a significant number of Moderates are voting for McCain (25%-50%), and do not self-identify as Conservative.