Sunday, June 13, 2010

Young Jews as conservative immigration restrictionists?

Referencing Stephen Steinlight in a column on the perceived loneliness of immigration restrictionism, the Derb noted that younger Jews are more politically conservative and inclined towards restrictionism than their elders are. The Derb reports that at a function organized by the Center for Immigration Studies, Steinlight "quoted a wealth of surveys and studies to support his case".

In Steinlight's originating article, though, he doesn't present anything relating to a generational divide among American Jews, emphasizing instead the gap between the mainstream Jewish majority and the self-styled Jewish leaders who putatively misrepresent them. Steinlight's article, however, was written nearly a year ago, and he could have presented new material in the talk the Derb attended.

Whatever the case, it would be interesting to see evidence confirming or contradicting the claim that younger Jews are more restrictionist (and thus more in line with broader public opinion) than older Jews are.

Unfortunately, the GSS does not provide a large enough sample to be directly informative on the immigration issue. Questions on immigration were posed in 2000, of which responses from a whopping 34 Jews (of all ages) were recorded. The GSS does, however, consistently query respondents on their political orientations. Those who self-describe as politically conservative tend to be more restrictionist than those who call themselves liberals, so if younger Jews are more conservative than older Jews are, it's reasonable to assume they are similarly more restrictionist.

The following table divides Jewish respondents (n = 262) into three age categories and compares them politically. For broader comparative purposes, it also includes the same for all white respondents (n = 11,034). To strike a balance between adequate sample size and contemporary relevance, the last ten years of GSS surveys are consulted:


Not much evincing Steinlight's contention. Younger Jews are slightly less conservative and correspondingly more moderate than their parents and grandparents are, but the differences are marginal.

It is noteworthy, though, that in contrast to the pattern observed among all whites, younger Jews are no more liberal than middle-aged and older Jews. If young Jews are not, as Steinlight puts it, "decidedly more conservative than their elders", they are not more liberal than those elders, either. If Jews tend to experience the same rightward shift throughout the course of their lives that whites do, the GSS provides reason to suspect that today's young Jews are more conservative than older Jews were at the same age. That said, Jews of all ages are, on average, considerably more liberal than the rest of white America is.

To the potential objection that Steinlight is describing Jews based on religious affiliation, not ethnicity, the GSS item used to determine the political orientations of Jews is worded as follows: "What is your religous preference? Is it Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, some other religion, or no religion?" Only 1.9% of respondents indicated Judaism, compared to 14.7% of respondents who choose no religion. The latter figure is undoubtedly comprised in part of those who are ancestrally Jewish but who are themselves irreligious. There is not an apples-to-oranges problem here.

As to the potential objection that the GSS too generalist and wide-ranging to definitively contradict Steinlight's assertion, that is correct. It is merely suggestive. As is so often the case, though, the GSS is an enormous mine of information about the US population, and consequently is surely worth taking a look at.

GSS variables used: RELIG(3), RACE(1), YEAR(1998-2008), POLVIEWS(1-3)(4)(5-7), AGE(18-34)(35-59)(60-89)


dearieme said...

Might young Jews want to keep muslims out?

OneSTDV said...

Might young Jews want to keep muslims out?

The more diehard liberal Jews would welcome Muslims if it meant a lower demographic percentage of white Christians.

Awhile back, I suggested the book "While Europe Slept" to a Jewish acquaintance in an online forum, assuming he'd find it interesting. He sent me an email condemning the author as a "extreme right-winger" and didn't consider obtaining the book.

Surprising and sad.

Anonymous said...

Off topic


I have looked at the hilarious Greene election in South Carolina. I contend that the majority that elected him were not property owners.

Anyway, inspired by your maps in a post on who would have been elected had women not voted, I wondered if the GSS or other source asks about whether people own property. That could be used to see who property owners vote for etc.

Audacious Epigone said...


No, unfortunately I don't think the GSS contains much as far as that's concerned. There is a question about home ownership, but it was only asked in 1996, so it's pretty limiting in what it can be used for.

Anonymous said...

I personally happen to be an outlier as a Jewish admirer of certain socialistic policies who is also a strict immigration restrictionist but the general zeitgeist among Jews is in the direction of the Orthodox and they are by and large Conservative FOX Newsers, and have been since Reagan (though only solidified as such under Bush II).

They tend (like most people) not to recognize the reasons for their political perspective but as a close outsider I can say with a high degree of certainty that it has to do in large part with the fact that the left is more antisemitic than the right nowadays (though assholes like Hoste are giving the left a run for their money). It also helps that practically every one of the "plenty-plaints" about the degredation of culture and morality that the right wing punditocracy hypocritically touts every waking moment is a plaint that the Orthodox also hold against the (boogieman) left.

I would guess that one of the best predictors of one's views on immigration though would be one's net worth. I would guess that both among Obama supporters and McCain supporter, most of the poorer folk would like to close the borders while most of the wealthier folk would like to keep them open.

As for the "Jewish leaders"' and their holocaust weapon that they regard as their personal toy, they are generally repugnant self-important people whose parents were repugnant self-important American Jews who did precious little for Jews who were actually being slaughtered during the Holocaust. These "leaders" speak for no one but a few of their fellow assimilated and intermarried ignoramous jewish multimillionaires. They are essentially self-appointent douchebags.

The Undiscovered Jew said...

I personally happen to be an outlier as a Jewish admirer of certain socialistic policies who is also a strict immigration restrictionist

You aren't an outlier. The biggest political difference between white gentiles and non-Orthodox American Jews is on secular/religious issues, not racial/immigration issues.

As TGGP pointed out in the below post (also derived from the GSS) the reason non-Orthodox Jews are liberal is because they are the most atheistic/agnostic white American ethnic group, and one of the best - if the best - predictors of whether a white person will be liberal is to rate how religious or non-religious they are.

Atheism/Agnosticism also helps explains why Western European voters are generally much more left wing than white Americans.

PS: I'm not sure how important Jewish groups are to the immigration debate. The ADL, for example, spent an average of only $120,000 total in lobbying for 2005 -2007 - and they didn't spend all of that money on immigration advocacy.

I'm pretty sure that Tom Donahoe, who runs the Chamber of Commerce, and other pro-immigration business lobbies like Big Agriculture and the Roman Catholic Church (Google Cardinal Mahoney and immigration) put far more lobbying muscle behind Bush's 2006 and 2007 amnesty offensives than the AJC and ADL did:

Half Sigma vs Kevin MacDonald

More GSS fun! In response to something Whiskey said, I have updated my post on women & immigration. I got home today planning on doing a different GSS post. There had been two recent posts at the Hoover Hog on anti-semites, and a theme that stuck with me is the theory that Jews are pursuing a group evolutionary strategy against the white race. This is used by the racial right (although some deny being rightists) to explain Jewish liberalism. Half Sigma, in contrast, explains Jewish liberalism as being motivated to keep school prayer away from their kids, as Christianity with all its fun holidays and lack of dietary restrictions is just too much of a temptation for a Jewish mother to hazard. I’m going to look at questions that are racially vs religiously charged and compare the responses of Jews vs whites generally to see where the gap is larger.


The absolute difference in means divided by standard deviation for RACE(1): 0.82

Average of differences for religiously-tinged issues: 2.88 /4 = 0.72

I’m going to post this and then calculate the results. Are Jews laicites or multicultists? See if you can beat me to it! Yeah, I know I have a head start since you didn’t instantly start reading this as soon as I posted it. You just have to be both lucky and fast.

UPDATE: Finished. Half Sigma wins hands down. Granted, there was subjectivity in what questions I chose to analyze. Think you can do a better job? Get to it! So why did the racialists get it wrong? My guess is that race is simply more salient to them and because they consider it a major motivating factor they assume it must also be for Jews. Because they do not lump Jews in with whites and are themselves concerned with promoting the interests of whites, they think Jews must also contrast themselves with whites (though as Half Sigma has noted, Jews think of themselves as whites) and the status of whites must be their target.

Religious Intensity Predicts Support for McCain

Only 39% of U.S. Jews report that religion is important in their daily lives, well below the overall national average. Among this smaller group of religious Jews, however, Obama and McCain break even, 45% to 45%. This compares to Obama's 68% to 26% lead among the majority of Jews for whom religion is not important.

The Undiscovered Jew said...

AE, Steinlight is correct. Polls have shown for some time that Jews under 55 are more likely to vote Republican, but since Jews are an older demographic group, younger Jews make less of a difference in determining the overall Jewish vote in any election. There is also a gender Gap where Jewish men of any age are more likely to be Republican than Jewish women.

The slightly more pro-McCain orientation of the youngest category of Jewish voters (those 18 to 34) could be related to the fact that they are more apt than older Jewish voters to consider themselves political conservatives (29% vs. 16%). However, ideology does not appear to explain the gap between middle-aged and older Jewish voters. Whereas those 35 to 54 are more likely to support McCain, they are no more likely than older Jewish voters to describe their political views as conservative.


Survey Methods


The monthly results of Jewish registered voters are generally based on more than 650 interviews conducted in each full month, and 564 interviews conducted in the partial month of October. The exact sample sizes and associated margins of sampling error for each month's results are detailed in the accompanying table.

Anonymous said...

Undi, I was excited to hear that I wasn't an outlier but somewhat unconvinced by the irrelevant slew of words that purport to back that up. Admirers of socialistic policies still tend not to be fierce immigration restrictionists, even after the reams of unrelated data you offered. If you have evidence to the contrary I'll be quite heartened and appreciative.

The Undiscovered Jew said...

Also, if you remember how the 2008 election went in the last three months of the campaign, Obama was actually having trouble building a commanding popular vote lead in the polls in late September 2008. In late September Obama was also doing - by historical standards - rather poorly among the Jewish vote, and ESPECIALLY with younger Jews who were least likely to support Obama.

It was only AFTER Lehman Brothers imploded that Obama gained a 7-10 point lead in the polls and buried McCain alive. After Lehman and the economy collapsed, Obama also won 78% of the Jewish vote.

Prior to Lehman's downfall, Obama was having difficulty breaking 60% among Jewish voters in an election that turned out to be a coast to coast Democrat wave:

Jewish Voters Favor Obama Over McCain, 57-30 percent; Many Undecided

September 25, 2008 – New York – With less than six weeks to go to Election Day, American Jewish voters favor Senator Barack Obama over Senator John McCain for U.S. president by a margin of 57-30 percent. At the same time, an unexpectedly large number, 13 percent, remain undecided about their vote, according to a new American Jewish Committee (AJC) survey.

The AJC survey was conducted by Synovate (formerly Market Facts), a leading survey-research organization. 914 American Jews were interviewed by telephone between September 8-21, 2008. The margin of error for the sample as a whole is plus or minus 3 percentage points.


A ‘Ceiling’ for Obama’s Jewish Support?
New York Jewish Week
September 29, 2008

by James D. Besser
Washington Correspondent

In the survey, the Democratic nominee scored 57 percent with Jewish voters overall — a slight decrease from two other recent polls and 12 percentage points below what John Kerry garnered in the same poll in the run-up to the 2004 presidential election.


Despite aggressive outreach to Jewish voters in key states, Obama’s numbers were slightly lower than they were in the only other recent surveys that looked at Jewish political attitudes — a July survey by J Street, the new pro-peace process political action committee and lobby, and a May survey by Gallup.

The most surprising conclusion appeared in breakdowns not included in the AJC press release.
“Everybody assumes it’s the younger Jews who are most drawn to Obama,”
said chief AJC pollster David Singer. “But we found the opposite — in the 60-plus category, 61 percent said they were for Obama, 57 percent for the 40-59 group, and 49 percent for those under 40.”

How did he explain a result that deviates from numerous reports about young Jewish voters flocking to the Obama cause?

“We don’t know,” Singer said. “But it may be that in the over-60 group this may not be as much a commitment to Obama as a reflection of people who have spent their whole voting lives — decades — voting Democratic. That pattern may be continuing to exert itself.”


Jewish Democrats believe there is a new receptivity among Orthodox voters to their message, but the 78 percent of Orthodox respondents who signaled support for McCain, against only 13 percent for Obama, may give them pause.


Again reflecting national trends, Jewish women are more likely (60 percent) to choose Obama than Jewish men (54 percent).

The Undiscovered Jew said...

Admirers of socialistic policies still tend not to be fierce immigration restrictionists, even after the reams of unrelated data you offered.

Maybe this poll will be relevant enough for you.

A plurality of American Jews want illegal immigrants to be "attrited" and a similar number want a pathway to citizenship.

On LEGAL immigration, only 5% of American Jews want LEGAL immigration to increase and 50% said the number was too high.

So, as TGGP demonstrated, there isn't a great deal of enthusiasm among Jewish Americans on the whole to increase legal immigration.

•Jews: 43 percent support enforcement; 40 percent support conditional legalization.


•Jews: 50 percent said it is too high; 5 percent said is too low; 22 percent just right.

The Undiscovered Jew said...

So, as TGGP demonstrated, there isn't a great deal of enthusiasm among Jewish Americans on the whole to increase legal immigration.

that should be

So, as TGGP demonstrated, there isn't a huge difference between Jews and white Americans on racially charged issues like immigration. The biggest difference, and what drives Jewish liberalism, is Jewish secular temperament.

Audacious Epigone said...


I wonder why the GSS doesn't mesh with the results of the polls in the lead up to the 2008 election. Could it have been due in part to the specific candidates? McCain strikes me as being exactly what Jews voting Republican would want, while Obama, especially among Jews concerned about Israel, did not seem like an optimal choice.

The Undiscovered Jew said...

Sorry for the late reply.

I have no idea why the GSS doesn't mesh with other polls that breakdown Jewish voters by age. Most other polls (see the PDF below) have confirmed for some time that Jews under the age of 50 are more inclined to support the Republicans.

McCain strikes me as being exactly what Jews voting Republican would want, while Obama, especially among Jews concerned about Israel, did not seem like an optimal choice.

First of all, Israel hasn't had an effect on the Jewish vote because before Obama, Democrat presidents were roughly as pro-Israel as Republican presidents. For example, I don't think Clinton was any less supportive of Israel than Reagan was and Clinton was probably more pro-Israel than GHBush and Nixon.

The Undiscovered Jew said...

Also, regarding McCain, McCain did worse than Bush did in 2004 with pretty much every demographic group, especially after Lehman collapsed and took the GOP down with it in 2008. Still, Obama was underperforming with Jewish voters before Lehman and Jews preferred Hillary Clinton over Obama in the primary campaign.

A general point I will make is that American Jews are more inclined to vote Republican when secular issues are not in play. Jews did give majority support to Giuliani because, obviously, Giuliani never had any control over social issues like abortion when he was mayor. Pataki did well with Jews because, again, Republicans at the local level don't have much control over cultural issues and Republicans in the Northeast have always tended to be much less socially conservative than the national party.

In the 1980's Reagan and GHWBush averaged 35% of the Jewish vote when economic, crime (e.g. Willy Horton) and foreign policies were more important to national politics than religious issues in the 1990's and the connected rise of the Evangelical Right. So, again in concordance with TGGP's analysis, the major difference between Jewish and gentile political positions revolves around religious issues:

Reagan (R) 39
Carter (D) 45
Anderson (I) 14

Reagan (R) 31
Mondale (D) 67

Bush (R) 35
Dukakis (D) 64