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Florida's Jewish Vote Critical on Election Day

Florida's Jewish Vote Critical on Election Day

This combination of pictures created on November 04, 2016 shows US Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in Sanford, Florida, on November 1, 2016, and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in Wilmington, Ohio, on November 4, 2016. (Jewel Samad, Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

Jason Langsner By Monday, 07 November 2016 11:43 AM EST Current | Bio | Archive

In my column last month, I spoke about how the Israeli-American vote may tip the scales in Florida. As we entered November, all eyes continued to focus on the Sunshine State as being a must-win for Trump and one of a handful of options to get Secretary Clinton to plus-270. 

An exit poll by iVoteIsrael and KEEVON Global Research, which was reported on by The Jerusalem Post, found that these American citizens living or studying in Israel had more favorably voted for Trump over Clinton in the aggregate and in Florida. But the Israeli-American vote is only a small sliver of the Jewish-American vote. 

The Brandeis University American Jewish Population Project estimates that American Jews represent approximately 2 percent of our nation’s citizenry. The project highlights the density of the Jewish-American population in each state and that of adults who identify their religion is Jewish. In New York, Jewish-Americans represent nearly 8.5 percent of the population; but only 6.4 percent of the population of the state are adults who identify their religion as Jewish. New York, though, is a solid Democratic State. Florida, on the other hand, is a toss-up. Jewish-Floridians represent nearly 4.3 percent of the state’s citizenry and over 3.4 percent of all adults in Florida identify as being Jewish. These voters too may tip the scale in one direction or the other for Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump — as Real Clear Politics has Secretary Clinton favored in Florida by just 0.5 percent.

The study supports previous research that shows that the vast majority of Jewish-Americans share liberal or moderate political views. Only 20.9 percent of Jewish-Americans have conservative views, or about one out of every five citizens.

This data highlights a difference between Jewish-Americans’ political views and that of the total Jewish population. But the Jewish-American vote is also one that is diverse. 

American Judaism is pluralistic. Many of us self-identify as Orthodox, Modern Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Traditional, etc. We are an immigrant people in America and many of us also self-identify where our families came from. For instance, individuals living in the Jewish diaspora may self-identify as Ashkenazi (e.g. denoting their Central European family lineage), Sephardic (e.g. denoting their Spanish and Portuguese lineage), or Mizrahi (e.g. denoting their Middle Eastern lineage).

These identity markers are also important for connoting our political identities and how they may play in the 2016 Election. For instance, those that fall into a more Orthodox or Modern Orthodox identity tend to lean more politically conservative than others; which can qualify why more Israeli-Americans favored Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton — according to the exit poll. But the pluralism line is grey. It is not black or white. It is impossible to type cast one Jewish vote for another, just like it is impossible to put all African-American or Hispanic-American votes into one box or another. 

The overlap, though, for Jewish voters who are African-American and Hispanic-American votes may also come into play in this Election. For instance, in Miami-Dade County in Florida, over 41 percent of the Jewish population identifies as Hispanic and 4 percent are Black, non-Hispanic.

This Election is drawing to a close. The vitriol against minority communities of all kinds will also hopefully come to a close with it, but that is unlikely. The Alt-Right and nationalistic movements have been put on the main stage in this election by followers of the Trump campaign. Many believe they have been courted by the campaign. I am one of them. But what cannot be forgotten on November 9, and thereafter, is not that the election is rigged, it is that the votes of Jewish-Americans matter. They will matter in Florida. They will matter in Ohio. They will matter in Pennsylvania. They will matter in North Carolina. They will matter in all of the battleground states.

Jason Langsner is an active member of the American Jewish professional community. Langsner formerly ran the digital strategy for B'nai B'rith International, the Global Voice of the Jewish Community, and participated in the Israel Diplomatic Fellowship program at the Embassy of Israel in Washington, D.C. He has been featured in The Times of Israel, The Jerusalem Post, Haaretz, the Israel Video Network, Washington Jewish Week,, and other publications. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.

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American citizens living or studying in Israel had more favorably voted for Trump over Clinton in the aggregate and in Florida.
jewish, vote, florida, israel
Monday, 07 November 2016 11:43 AM
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