Your email is not valid
Recipient's email is not valid
Submit Close

Your email has been sent.

Click here to send another


Are Gay Voters the New Jewish Voters?

If GOP moves toward Dem position, constituency could be a toss-up

Print Email
President Obama addressing Barnard College today.(Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Good Shepherd Services)

The election-year analysis of President Obama’s public support for gay marriage last week is that while it may do little to help him with gay voters—they were probably going to support the Democrat who lifted “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” over the Republican who seems iffy on gay adoption anyway—it will open the floodgates of wealthy gay donors who might otherwise have kept their wallets shut. It’s telling that the re-election campaign had planned for Obama to do this sometime before the Democratic National Convention, even had Vice President Biden not allegedly, accidentally forced its hand. (Which isn’t to imply that Obama comes by his belief dishonestly or cynically—on the contrary, it’s widely suspected that it was his prior public discomfort with gay marriage that was disingenuous.)

Conservative pundit Timothy P. Carney begins his column on this subject by citing a line Rahm Emanuel apparently quipped back in 1992: “Gays are the next Jews of fundraising.” In more words, they are disproportionately wealthy, politically engaged, and Democratic, and can be massaged on a few issues or even one issue of particular resonance to them. “In that light,” Carney argues, “Obama’s endorsement of gay marriage was at least the equivalent of recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel—a symbolic and controversial action that excites a donor base.” (Indeed, in mere months Obama has moved from first Jewish president to first gay president. No word on whether he remains the first black president excepting Bill Clinton.)

Here’s the difference. Gay rights is the signal issue for most gay donors, and so the Democrats are undoubtedly their party. But if support for Israel—and specifically the throw-caution-to-the-wind, out-and-out support for Israel that would be embodied by recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel (something the past three presidents have failed to do despite ostensible legislative obligation)—were the signal issue for Jewish donors, then they would be flooding to the Republicans; and yet, with a few notable exceptions (Sheldon Adelson, Irving Moskowitz, these folks), they haven’t. Despite a bipartisan consensus on Israel that, where it favors one side at all, probably favors Republicans more than Democrats (particularly among the wealthy), Jews overwhelmingly stick with Democrats.

Extrapolating from donors to voters only makes things more interesting. Four percent of the population identifies as LGBT—roughly twice the number who identify as Jews. Right now, when one party is trying to grant them more rights and the other is trying to circumscribe them, you can expect overwhelming Democratic support. Certainly you’d expect that a higher proportion of gays than Jews would vote for the Democrat, right? Well, in 2008, you would’ve been wrong: 27 percent of gays voted for Sen. John McCain, as opposed to 22 percent of Jews.

Maybe that number will go down this year given Obama’s announcement, but in terms of a longer trend, it implies that eventually the gay vote—at least the gay male vote—will be very much up-for-grabs. And why shouldn’t it be? Fifty, 30, or even 20 years from now, both parties will support gay rights, at least on its face, and the issue will be largely uncontroversial. (Put it this way: In 50 years, I’d bet Democrats won’t make the same charges against Republicans about gays that they do now about women.) At that point, roughly half of the gay population will be men who are disproportionately wealthy; disproportionately childless; and likely less concerned with social issues, their primary one having been resolved. And what do we call wealthy American men who care about economic policies with a limited personal commitment to public education? Usually, we call them Republicans. (I’d expect lesbians to remain a strongly Democratic group, in part because they’re women.)

Most likely, gay Americans, like practically all Americans, will vote their self-interest and evolve across parties accordingly. There will be only one bizarre outlier that will continue, as Milton Himmelfarb put it 60 years ago, to “earn like Episcopalians and vote like Puerto Ricans.”

Gay Marriage Shows How Social Issues Pay for Dems [Washington Examiner]

Print Email

Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180

Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.

Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.

We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.

BMG4ME says:

Gay and Jewish are mutually exclusive.

    Hershl says:


    I am gay and Jewish and have no problem.

    Are you gay and Jewish?

      BMG4ME says:

      It’s OK as long as you refrain from illegal relations that the Torah forbids as an abomination.

        oaklandj says:

        Says you (are you even Jewish?). My Torah says that I’m not to be a male temple prostitute. I’m not.

          BMG4ME says:

          The Torah that I follow as long with other Torah Observant Jews, doesn’t say that.  If you truly care about following the Torah then instead of trying to mold the Torah into saying what you want it to say in order to allow you to in your mind to fail the tests that Hashem has put before you, try molding your behavior to fit in with the most commonly accepted interpretation, which is that committing acts with another man is forbidden.  I understand that Hashem has given you a test that is not easy to deal with but that is exactly why you were put on this earth.  The same applies to heterosexuals that have tests put before them.

          Gay and Jewish are mutually exclusive? Nonsense. Maybe it’s true if you define Jewish to be YOUR KIND of Jewish. But anyone in 2012 who thinks there’s only one way to be Jewish is on another planet. I’m Jewish–in the secular sense. I speak both Hebrew and Yiddish and can read the Tanakh in the original; I like Jewish food and Jewish music; I respect some Jewish ritual. I also love pork and shrimp, turn on lights on Shabbes, and think circumcision is a blatant violation of basic human rights. I’m an atheist–and I’m gay. I represent another way of being Jewish, and if you don’t like it, too bad.

          BMG4ME says:

          Eating pork and shrimp isn’t living Jewish, and neither is acting out your gay instincts.  There is a difference between being Jewish and living Jewish.  Also don’t worry about what I think, because I am not the one that will be judging you on Yom Kippur and at the end of your days.

          oaklandj says:

          Since you won’t be the judge, why worry about it? You’re sounding more and more Christian with every sentence you post. In fact, why not convert and be done with it? You’ll find that Christians are far, far more likely to be as certain about what Torah says about homosexuality than Jews are, so you might feel right at home.

          BMG4ME says:

          I really do suggest you learn something about our religion, instead of posting filth during a Jewish holiday called Shavuot when we are forbidden to use computers and do work.  I pray at synagogue three times a day I am completely Jewish.  So you think that judgement is not a Jewish idea?  Go and find an orthodox Rabbi and learn the facts instead of making chilul Hashem.

          oaklandj says:

          Good for you! Thank you for the warm, insightful comment.

          BMG4ME says:

          Well you set the bar so high that I don’t think I came anywhere close but thanks anyway.

Royq says:

It is clearly time to massage some gay voters.

Hershl says:

78% of Jews voted for Obama in 2008.

Recent polls show 60% supporting him.

Today the Virginia legislature nixed the appointment of a state judge because he was gay.

That was the only thing they had against his appointment.

The GOP is shooting itself in the foot as I write.

What a talented bunch of morons.

oaklandj says:

So in 2008, Jews were more likely to vote for Obama than were gay people. I would say that if gays will adopt Jewish voting patterns, then they’d have to vote MORE Democratic, not less. (I say this as a gay Jew, and, yeah, a solid Democrat; given the alternative, what do you expect?)

Interesting how you lump all gay voters together, as if Latino, Asian, Native American and Black gay men would have the same interests as affluent gay white males. Specious much?

Well, it’s a myth that gay Americans are disproportionately wealthy. In fact, they’re disproportionately poor:


Your comment may be no longer than 2,000 characters, approximately 400 words. HTML tags are not permitted, nor are more than two URLs per comment. We reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments.

Thank You!

Thank you for subscribing to the Tablet Magazine Daily Digest.
Please tell us about you.

Are Gay Voters the New Jewish Voters?

If GOP moves toward Dem position, constituency could be a toss-up

More on Tablet:

The Kindergarten Teacher Who Won Cannes

By Vladislav Davidzon — Hungarian actor Géza Röhrig stars in Auschwitz drama Son of Saul