Oct 19, 2021
JERUSALEM WEATHER

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Despite his gloriously pro-Israel policies, President Trump benefitted from only 22% of the Jewish vote in 2020. A new study predicts that the tradition of Jews in the US supporting the Democratic party will end sometime over the next half-century.

Yale study: More Orthodox Jews

Edieal Pinker is a Professor of Operations Research at the Yale School of Management where he also serves as Chief Academic Officer and Deputy Dean. Prof. Pinker used predictive modeling using machine learning methods to carry out a demographic analysis of the US Jewish community. Drawing upon a recent comprehensive survey of the American Jewish population conducted in 2013 by the Pew Research Center, the professor estimated the trajectory of the population and its denominational segments, 50 years into the future.

The study notes that the USA accounts for 39% of the global Jewish population, the largest group outside Israel, and therefore has a huge impact on the nature of the Jewish people at large. While, over the last several decades, both Roman Catholics and Mainline Protestants in the US have experienced significant numerical declines, in part bolstered by immigration from the former Soviet Union, the Jewish population grew by approximately one million – or almost a fifth – from 1990 until 2013.

“This is important information if you are running a Jewish nonprofit that’s active in trying to develop the health of the community,” Pinker said. “If you’re unaware of these trends, then you’re flying blind.”

The conclusions were straightforward but dramatic nonetheless:

“We project that the share of the population that is Orthodox will rise from 13% to 28%, with their share of the child population reaching 45%,” the study concluded. “Among Reform and Conservative Jews, the number of 30-69 year-olds is projected to drop by approximately 47% over this period. We also project a slight drop in the total Jewish population followed by a recovery propelled by the growing Orthodox population.”

Though only one in ten of the  5.3 million Jewish adults in the USA are Orthodox, certain communal traits are expected to shift the overall demographics in their favor. In the next half-century, the total Jewish population will dip slightly in the short term and then rebound, largely due to high Orthodox fertility rates.  Orthodox Jews are the most likely to marry other Jews and raise their children as Orthodox. Orthodox families also have many more children than other Jews and the American population as a whole—around four, on average. Meanwhile, Reform and Conservative Jews have a smaller number of children and only a minority of them raise their children in those denominations. 

According to the Pew research, despite being younger, more than two-thirds of Orthodox adults are married (69%), compared with about half of other Jewish adults (49%). . On average, the Orthodox get married younger and bear at least twice as many children as other Jews (4.1 vs. 1.7 children ever born to adults ages 40-59). And they are especially likely to have large families: Among those who have had children, nearly half (48%) of Orthodox Jews have four or more offspring, while just 9% of other Jewish parents have families of that size.

More Republican Jews

Pinker predicted that by 2063, the numbers of Orthodox, Reform, and Conservative, and partly Jewish and non-denominational Jews will be roughly equal.

This will have implications in the political preferences of the Jewish community.  

“If the community as a whole becomes more traditional, it will be voting in a different pattern than we’ve become used to in the United States, where the Jewish community has been viewed as a very reliable voting bloc for Democrats,” Pinker says.

This was especially true for former President Obama who garnered 78% of the Jewish vote in 2008 and despite his decidedly anti-Israel policies, benefitted from 69% of the Jewish vote in his second bid for the White House. In 2016, former President Trump received only 24% of the Jewish vote and despite his unprecedented support of Israel, the percentage of Jews who voted for him in 2020 dropped to 22%. 

“As of mid-2013, 57% of Orthodox Jews identified with the Republican Party or said they leaned toward the GOP,” the Pew report noted. “Orthodox Jews also tend to express more conservative views on issues such as homosexuality and the size of government; that is, they are more likely than other Jews to say that homosexuality should be discouraged and that they prefer a smaller government with fewer services to a bigger government with more services.”