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ELECTION 2020

This map shows the 20 congressional districts with the most Jews

By Ben Sales

(JTA) – About one-third of American Jews live in just 20 of the country’s congression-al districts. Nearly half of those districts are in New York, and all but one of them is represented by a Democrat.

Meanwhile, the district with the most Jews in the country is also the site of Mar-a-Lago, President Donald Trump’s Florida estate.

Those are among the findings from a recent study analyzing Jewish voting patterns. Key findings from the study, which was conducted by the Jewish Electorate Institute and the Steinhardt Social Research Institute at Brandeis University, were published online August 25.

The study, like previous others, found that Jewish voters are more Democratic and politically liberal than the country at large. It also found, similar to earlier research, that Jewish voters tend to be older than average.

A map shows the 20 congressional districts with the most Jews. (Credit: Laura E. Adkins/JTA)

What’s new here is that the researchers were able to identify not only how Jews vote but where they cast their ballots. The study found that the majority of Jewish adults live in four states – New York, California, Florida and New Jersey.

“In all of the so-called battleground states, not only Florida but places like Pennsylvania and Ohio and Michigan, those are states where if something similar to 2016 happens in 2020, Jews are large enough in number in those states where they could make a difference,” said Leonard Saxe, director of the Steinhardt Social Research Institute.

Approximately one-third of Jewish adults, about 1.8 million, are concentrated in just 20 congressional districts among the 435 across the United States.

The district with the most Jewish voters, Florida’s 21st, is drawing a lot of attention this year for its race between two Jewish candidates, the Democratic incumbent Rep. Lois Frankel and Laura Loomer, an anti-Islam provocateur who won the Republican nomination and Trump’s endorsement. Loomer released an ad this week that used Holocaust imagery and Yiddish to attack Frankel as an opponent of Jewish interests.

The district covers southeastern Florida cities such as Palm Beach, Boynton Beach and Delray Beach, and includes 152,000 Jewish adults, according to the study. In total, the district has about 524,000 registered voters. According to the study, the district is 24.3% Jewish, and more than half of those Jewish adults are older than 65.

The two adjacent districts down the South Florida coast, the 22nd and 23rd, also crack the top 20 for Jewish voters. Both are also represented by Jewish Democrats: Reps. Ted Deutch and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, respectively.

Most of the other districts in the Jewish top 20 are in New York and New Jersey, including seven in New York City and two on suburban Long Island. The second-largest Jewish district overall, New York’s 10th on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, has 151,000 Jewish adults and is represented by longtime congressman Jerry Nadler, a Jewish Democrat. The other New York City districts cover large swaths of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island.

The lone district on the list represented by a Republican, Rep. Chris Smith, is New Jersey’s 4th, which includes the heavily Orthodox city of Lakewood. That district is about 10% Jewish, with 51,000 Jewish adults, according to the study.

The rest of the top 20 districts are in Los Angeles County and the suburbs of Chicago, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Boston.

Overall, eight of the top 20 Jewish districts are represented by Jews. Saxe said the list of the most Jewish districts is a key data point ahead of the 2020 census, which will likely lead to congressional redistricting.

“The concentration of Jews and whether that concentration is allowed to continue, whether it’s not, will be an important issue,” he said. “In those districts where Jews are 10% or more of the population, they’re also a very significant force in choosing members of Congress.”

ELECTION 2020 SHORT TAKES

Survey: Biden leads Trump 67-30 among Jewish voters

By Ron Kampeas  

(JTA) – A survey of Jewish voters shows 67 percent plan to vote for Joe Biden in November and 30 percent plan to vote for Donald Trump. The numbers in the survey released Monday by the Jewish Electorate Institute broke the same way when voters were asked about President Trump’s performance: 67 percent said they disapprove and 30 percent said they approve.

The survey suggested gains for Trump among Jewish voters since 2016, when Hillary Clinton won 71 percent of the vote to Trump’s 24 percent. Mitt Romney, the Republican candidate in 2012, won 30 percent of the Jewish vote, the highest for a Republican since the 1980s.

However, support among Trump voters appears to be relatively soft. Just 64 percent of the respondents who said they approve of Trump said they strongly approved, while 92 percent of those who disapproved said they strongly disapproved. 

Respondents ranked Biden as better on handling a range of issues, including antisemitism and the rise of white nationalism, 67-26; the coronavirus pandemic, 66-24; security of the Jewish community, 55-29; and U.S.-Israel relations, 46-32. Voters ranked healthcare, the economy and the response to the coronavirus as their most important issues. Lowest ranked out of 19 issues asked about in the poll were Israel, Iran and “Support of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” Nonetheless, 88 percent of respondents said they were pro-Israel. Analysts have long believed that Jewish voters rank Israel low as an electoral issue when they believe both nominees will pursue a pro-Israel policy.

The online survey of 810 voters was carried out Sept. 2-7 by the Garin Hart Yang research group. The Jewish Electorate Institute is nonpartisan, although its leadership is comprised almost entirely of Jews who have been active in Democratic politics.

Biden: Trump’s foreign policy is bad for Israel

By Ron Kampeas

(JTA) – At a virtual fundraiser organized by J Street, the liberal Jewish Middle East policy group, Joe Biden said that President Donald Trump is bad for Israel because he runs a feckless foreign policy.

“Trump’s put Israel in danger by tearing up the Iran nuclear deal and replaced it with nothing,” Biden said Thursday, Sept. 10. “He’s allowed Israel’s foes to take residence in Syria, a dangerous power vacuum has formed. He’s undermined the stability of self-determination for the Palestinians, undercutting hope for a viable two-state solution any chance that he gets.”

Also Thursday, Jewish Insider reported that Haim Saban, the Israeli-American billionaire entertainment mogul, is organizing a minimum $500,000 a ticket fundraiser for Biden. Saban, who supported Hillary Clinton in 2016, had stayed away from presidential politics this cycle until now. He had indicated in the past that he would break with the party if the Democrats nominated Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is critical of Israel and had talked of withholding U.S. aid. Both fundraisers are signs that Biden is consolidating support from both the pro-Israel left and center as the campaign rolls into its final six weeks.

Trump has built a formidable bloc of support among the pro-Israel right – they applaud his many moves in the Middle East, such as moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem – and hopes to poach centrist pro-Israel Jewish voters who might normally vote Democratic. Trump added to his Israel resume recently by brokering deals that would see Unite Arab Emirates and Bahrain normalize ties with Israel.

Meanwhile, Douglas Emhoff, the Jewish husband of Kamala Harris, has maintained a heavy schedule of Jewish outreach appearances. On Sept. 10, he participated in a live panel in Aventura, Florida, with six rabbis. Biden, he said there, is “good for Israel” and would be “a president that lives by the values” shared by Jewish Americans, including tolerance. Emhoff has pushed a central theme of the Biden campaign – that Trump embraces and encourages far right-wing extremists. 

Emhoff also had appeared in virtual Jewish voter outreach events, including in the key campaign states of Pennsylvania, Florida and Ohio.

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