One place to start to understand the Jewish vote would be The American Jewish Committee's 2007 Annual Survey of American Jewish Opinion. It is divided into 5 sections:
A. International Affairs
C. National Affairs
E. Jewish Identity
The National Affairs section, which deals with political affiliation, shows that 58% of Jews in the US view identify themselves as Democrats, while only 15% see themselves as Republicans (26% as Independent and 2% not sure).
No surprise there.
Now keep in mind how this compares with Jewish Identity:
34. How important would you say being Jewish is in your own life? Very important 61 Fairly important 29 Not very important 10 37. How close do you feel to Israel? Very close 30 Fairly close 40 Fairly distant 21 Very distant 8 Not sure 1 38. Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? “Caring about Israel is a very important part of my being a Jew.” Agree 69 Disagree 28 Not Sure 3
Pretty decent numbers that show just as the majority of Jews in the US consider themselves Democrats, so too do they consider Israel to be important to their being Jewish.
But then there is this:
19. In deciding who you would like to see elected president next year, which issue will be most important to you? Please select one of the following: War in Iraq 16 Economy and jobs 23 Terrorism and national security 14 Health care 19 Support for Israel 6 Immigration 6 Education 4 Energy crisis 6 Not sure 5
The question is: how Jewish is the Jewish identification we are talking about here.
The talk only goes just so far. For many, identification seems to go only so far--a convenient, touchy-feely abstraction. We're only talking about rating priorities here--not about making Aliyah or giving big bucks. Yet for all the talk of Jewish identification, support for Israel--at a time when she is arguably facing the most dangerous threats and strongest pressure--does not seem to rate with American Jews, most of whom are voting the Democratic ticket.
And how Jewish is the Jewish vote that Democrats and Republicans are fighting over.