Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Do Jews really hate Palin?

No, they don't.  At least, no more than anyone else does.

David Frum nicely takes apart this silly and insulting  Commentary piece by Jennifer Rubin that argues that Jews hate Sarah Palin because Jews look down on rural, working class people without formal educations.  But while Frum is right to point out the problems with the piece, he needn't bother developing other reasons that Jews might dislike Palin.

The entirety of the Commentary article rests on the notion that Jews actually disproportionately dislike Palin.  As her one piece of evidence, Rubin cites a 9/08 poll showing that only 37 percent of Jews approve of Palin.  Is this really disproportionately low?

Well, we know from exit polls that Jews tend to vote roughly 75-25 in favor of Democratic presidential candidates.  And in the fall of 2008, about 83% of Republicans and 21% of Democrats approved of Palin.  So let's do a little back-of-the-envelope calculation:
.75*21 + .25*83 = 15.75 + 20.75 = 36.5.
So going by their partisan voting patterns alone, we would expect 36.5 percent of Jews to approve of Palin -- almost exactly what that poll found.

Nothing to see here, folks.  Move along.


Richard Skinner said...

Sarah Palin = Dan Quayle = Spiro Agnew. A widely mocked VP pick adored by Republican partisans and disliked by pretty much everyone else. Agnew and Quayle vanished from the public spotlight pretty quickly, I suspect the same fate awaits Palin.

Seth Masket said...

Are you sure she's not Nixon? Her convention address was pure Checkers.

Eric Rubin said...

she's right. i hate palin.

jewy jewberg

Jonathan Bernstein said...

...and her book, I guess, is like Six Crises Real, Real, Lite. She could be Nixon...but Nixon worked hard to become all the new Nixons, while Quayle apparently was just as happy to be back on the golf course. Which one sounds more like Palin to you?

Jarv said...

JB- Don't forget; Quayle deluded himself into thinking he had a chance in 2000. Sure, he quit early and never had a chance (in 1998, for example, his fav/unfav amongst REPUBLICANS was 50/42), but I never had a sense it was a Fred Thompson (doing it only because his wife made him) effort.

Well, given that Bristol just set up a PR firm (the only sensible reason for which, seems to me, to be able to collect money from Mom's next campaign as a "consultant"), I'd say that Palin is not going to be happy with only moose hunting. However, she has better chances than Quayle did: her numbers within the circular firing squad are 79% favorable (don't see the unfavs reported, but we could assume something in the 15-19 range).

Anonymous said...


So are you actually conceding that she's as popular as a socially conservative Republican can be among Jewish voters? I'd agree if that's your conclusion.

A Republican can win at best 28% of the Jewish and her favorables, according to your math, are higher than the typical percentage that a Republican would win.

Anonymous said...

I should clarify...if her favorables among Jewish voters are around 35%, it's tough to see how any other conservative Republican would do better if you accept the argument that no Republican can win more than 30% of the Jewish vote. So a reasonable conclusion is that she would do no worse than Bush or McCain among Jews.

An equivalent analogy would be if Obama's favorables with white born-again evangelical Christians was around 35%.

His favorables from this poll in November were 28% with this group. I'd argue that this is probably a little low for where he should be with white born-again evangelicals.

In any event, you cannot really compare the two groups because white evangelical Christians comprise a huge portion of the electorate (26% in 2008) while Jewish voters do not.

Typically, Democrats need to win around a quarter of the white-evangelical born-again Christians. I find it doubtful that Obama will be able to win more than a fifth of them. What Obama needs to hope for is that the percentage of the electorate that is comprised of white born-again evangelical Christians is not 29%, another 3% increase as the percentage of the electorate that was comprised of white born-again Christians increased 3% from 2004 to 2008.

Seth Masket said...

Anonymous, we shouldn't confuse favorability ratings with votes. Yes, Palin was viewed favorably by about 37% of Jews in September of 2008, but the McCain/Palin ticket only got 21% of the Jewish vote.

Keep in mind that McCain's overall favorability ratings were about ten points higher than Palin's in 2008. To the extent that favorability predicts the vote, I'd say that Palin is not likely to do nearly as well at the top of the ticket as McCain or Bush did. Now, 2008 was an unusually tough year for Republicans -- maybe 2012 will be somewhat better for them. But I see little reason to think that the Jewish Republican vote would go up from 2008 with Palin at the top of the ticket.

Ken Wald said...

There's a context missing from this discussion. Polls of Jewish voters during the presidential campaign by Gallup, AJC and J Street suggest (and only suggest due to data issues) that Jews were far more undecided than normal in 2008 and returned to their customary Democratic position quite late. One can guess that the relatively high level of Jewish indecision was due to concerns about then-Senator Obama, stoked by an active email campaign that began late in 2007. It's possible that Palin's nomination brought Jews back to their political home in large numbers and that the GOP ticket might have improved on its showing among Jewish voters with a different VP candidate. It is striking that Jews were one of the few groups whose pro-Democratic tilt held steady from 2004 to 2008. Granted, there might have been a ceiling effect but the context is worth considering. It doesn't alter the math or sustain Rubin's argument.

Seth Masket said...

Ken, that's very interesting about Jews being more undecided than usual in 2008. The reasons you cite sound about right. Although according to the exit polls, Democratic support among Jews went up by three points between 2004 and 2008. That's not quite as big as the 5-6 point Democratic shift in the population as a whole, but it is an increase.