Prior to Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar's recent comments questioning U.S. support for Israel and the subsequent backlash suggesting that Jewish Americans may be abandoning the party over the issue, roughly half of U.S. Jews identified as Democrat in Gallup polling. Far fewer, 16%, said they were Republican.
These results come from combined Gallup tracking poll data for 2018, encompassing over 75,000 interviews with U.S. adults, including 938 self-identified Jewish Americans.
|*Figures based on 2018 Gallup Tracking|
President Donald Trump criticized Rep. Omar's comments, alleging Jews are abandoning the Democratic Party in response. While it is too soon to know whether Jewish Americans' orientation to the major parties has changed in recent weeks, Gallup trends suggest the potential is there. In 2008, 55% of Jewish Americans identified as Democrats, compared with the current 52%. The change in Democratic Party identification is consistent with the trend among all U.S. adults, from 35% in 2008 to 29% now.
Although Trump has waded into the controversy, he has relatively few supporters among Jewish Americans. In fact, Jewish Americans were among the least likely to approve of Trump of all religious groups in 2018, with just 26% approving and 71% disapproving.
|* Figures based on 2018 Gallup Tracking|
With Jewish Americans representing about 2% of the U.S. population, most opinion polls do not have enough Jewish respondents in a single poll to report reliable estimates for the group. As such, it would be at least several months for U.S. polling to be able to document whether Jewish people are abandoning the Democratic Party over some of its members' views on U.S. policy toward Israel.
Whether that occurs will depend on how long the controversy remains an issue within the Democratic Party. Although Americans' party preferences do shift in response to short-term events, there is no guarantee that any decline in Jewish identification as Democratic would directly benefit the Republican Party. Many of those former Democrats could wind up in the independent category.