Jewish Politics in America: A 100 Year Retrospective

Brandeis University

Stephen Whitfield is an American Studies professor emeritus at Brandeis University. His teaching awards include the Brandeis Student Union Teaching Award and the Louis Dembitz Brandeis Prize for Excellence in Teaching. Professor Whitfield has taught as a Fulbright visiting professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and at the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium, and as a visiting professor at the Sorbonne and the University of Munich.


Among the enduring mysteries of American politics is the failure of so many Jewish voters to resemble other groups who are similarly situated economically. For the past century, the Republican Party has generally represented the interests of the middle class and the prosperous. The Democratic Party has generally been the voice of the working class and the poor, although in recent years new trends have developed in some parts of the country. Yet the fact is, even as the majority of Jews ascended from immigrant poverty into the comfortable niche of the upper-middle class, they have retained their loyalty to the Democratic Party and its liberalism. A further examination of voting patterns and of possible explanations can shed light on this anomaly.



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