Over the past several weeks the Jewish vote has been in the news in a fashion not discussed in years. It is widely perceived that President Trump believes his policies and those of various prominent Democrats might push a greater portion of Jewish voters into the Republican column in 2020.
By the end of Election Night 2020 we will know if this has happened. The 2020 Exit Polls, conducted by Edison Research for the National Election Pool, will inform the world how this group, and dozens of others, will have voted on election night. These surveys will update a vital and long-standing record of voter understanding that simply would not exist otherwise.
To help us prepare for what we may see on Election Night 2020, let’s look at the historical record of the Jewish vote from the Exit Polls.
First, Jews only make up a small portion of the electorate. Approximately 2% of all voters in 2016 were Jewish. Only in New York, Washington DC and New Jersey will Jews typically make up even 5% of voters – and for the last many elections these have not been contested jurisdictions. The only states whose outcomes are typically up for grabs and have over 2% of their population Jewish are Florida (approximately 3%), Nevada (2%) and Pennsylvania (2%).
For Trump, or any Republican, to get even half the Jewish vote would represent an enormous change in the historical trends. As the nearby graph shows, Exit Polls dating back to 1972 have never shown the Republican candidate coming even close to parity – no Republican presidential candidate has ever gotten more than 39% of the vote. President Carter was perceived by many as being unfriendly to Israel, but he still carried the Jewish vote in 1980 in an election he lost by ten percentage points. President George H. W. Bush’s Chief of Staff James Baker was quoted making comments perceived to be unsympathetic to American Jews, and he suffered the worst outcome among Jews in any election since Exit Polls began. Since the 1988 election no Republican candidate has come closer than 39 points. The 2018 midterms were extremely unfriendly to Republicans among Jewish voters as well:
Regardless of policy decisions or other appeals from Republicans, the connection between Jewish voters and the Democratic Party is intertwined with the essential liberalism of the Jewish electorate. For instance, in the 2016 Presidential election while only one-quarter of all voters considered themselves ‘liberal’, fully half of Jewish voters said they considered themselves liberal.
The National Election Pool’s Exit Polls, conducted by Edison Research, are the only exit polls conducted in the United States. No other research surveys voters immediately after they leave their polling places and provides the verified viewpoints of actual voters.
About Edison Research
Edison Research conducts survey research and provides strategic information to a broad array of clients, including Activision, AMC Theatres, Disney, Dolby Laboratories, Google, Oracle, the U.S. International Broadcasting Bureau, Pandora, Samsung, Siemens, Sony, The Gates Foundation, and Univision. Edison is the leading podcast research company in the world and has conducted research on the medium for NPR, Slate, ESPN, PodcastOne, WNYC Studios, and many more companies in the space. Another specialty for Edison is its work for media companies throughout the world, conducting research in North America, South America, Africa, Asia, Australia, and Europe. Edison is also the leading provider of consumer exit polling and has conducted face-to-face research in almost every imaginable venue. Since 2004, Edison Research has been the sole provider of Election Day data to the National Election Pool, conducting exit polls and collecting precinct vote returns to project and analyze results for every major presidential primary and general election.