Jewish Voters More Divided Than Other Groups

Exit polls show a strong return to the Democrats in backing de Blasio, but 44 percent were with GOP's Lhota.

11/05/13
Assistant Managing Editor
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Democrat Bill de Blasio won a resounding and historic victory to become New York's 109th mayor Tuesday night, with an estimated 73 percent of the vote, scoring high across ethnic, religious, age and gender lines. 

But his support among Jews, at 53 percent, was the weakest of any religious or ethnic group, according to exit polling by Edison Research for The New York Times.

Jews made up 16 percent of those surveyed, and 44 percent of them voted for Republican Joseph Lhota, according to the data, around the same level of support suggested by pre-election polls. Eighty-three percent of Protestants backed de Blasio, as did 66 percent of Catholics.

Ninety-six percent of African American voters chose de Blasio, who also ran on the Workimg Families Party ballot, along with 87 percent of Hispanic voters and 68 percent of Asian Americans, according to the Edison Research poll of 2,122 voters. 

“We should remember that culturally and socially conservative communities take seriously their positions on issues, many of which are not entirely in-line with Progressive Democrats," said Michael Tobman, a political consultant who works with Orthodox groups. 

"But it must also be noted that many Jewish groups were big de Blasio supporters in the primary, and that the mayor-elect’s win, pretty much everywhere, is itself a citywide unifying event.”

In the Sept. 10 Democratic primary De Blasio won 38 percent of the Jewish vote, the highest of any candidate, according to the same polling firm.

Lhota, who ran on the Republican, Conservative, Taxes Too High and Students First ballots and won about 24 percentof the vote according to unofficial results,  made a concerted effort to attend as many Jewish events as his schedule would permit and to frequently campaign in heavily Jewish neighborhoods during the general election, with a particular emphasis on the Orthodox, and those efforts apparently did not go unnoticed.

Among the areas where Lhota support was strongest were Manhattan Beach and Midwood in Brooklyn, Far Rockaway and Kew Gardens Hills in Queens, and the Upper East Side of Manhattan -- all areas with significant Orthodox communities (See map here.)  De Blasio, however, won Williamsburg, where chasidic leaders endorsed him early in the campaign. Sections of Borough Park, which was part of his City Council district from 2001-2009, and Crown Heights were won by both candidates.

De Blasio can still claim record Jewish support, however, based on recent history. His share represents an increase of 31 points over the 2009 share garnered by Democrat William Thompson, Jr., when he ran against incumbent Mike Bloomberg, an independent/Republican who won 75 percent.  Democrat Fernando Ferrer won an estimated 26 percent against Bloomberg in 2005, while Mark Green won about 48 percent of the Jewish vote in 2001 as the Democrat facing Bloomberg in his first Republican bid for office.

The exit poll has a margin of error for subgroups larger than the overall plus or minus 4 points in the poll, but it does seem to reflect the findings of the recent New York Jewish Jewish Community Study that the Orthodox are making up a larger slice of the community's demographic pie. 

That means a sizable chunk of the city's Jewish population, long known for its liberalism, wasn't part of the progressive revolution that ended 20 years of exile from City Hall for the Democrats.

"Today, you spoke out loud and clear for a new direction for our city, united by the belief that our city should leave no New Yorker behind," said the mayor-elect in his victory speech at the Park Slope Armory YMCA.

"Make no mistake: The people of this city have chosen a progressive path, and tonight we set forth on it together as one city."

In his concession speech, Lhota, a former deputy mayor, said "the road was difficult right from the outset." While congratulating de Blasio, he also sounded a warning that touched on the Democrat's tale-of-two-cities narrative: "We are one people and we want our city to move forward and not backwards. And I do hope our mayor-elect understands this before it's too late."

The Democrats also easily captured the city comptroller's office, with Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer winning 80 percent of the vote over Republican John Burnett. Letitia James, a City Council member from Crown Heights, won the public advocate race, which had no Republican candidate, with 83 percent of the vote as of midnight Tuesday.

Stringer will be the only Jewish citywide elected official, while Melinda Katz of Queens will be the only Jewish borough president. Marty Markowitz of Brooklyn will be succeeded by State Sen. Eric Adams, while Stringer will be replaced by Gale Brewer, currently a Council member from the Upper West Side. Staten Island's James Molinaro will be replaced by James Oddo, also a Republican, while Democrat Ruben Diaz will hold onto his office in the Bronx.

In Brooklyn, voters issued their final verdict on District Attorney Charles J. Hynes, who was defeated in the Democratic primary, conceding to Ken Thompson, but later launched a bid for re-election on the Republican ballot. Just 28 percent of voters liked that idea, while 71 percent said it was time for Hynes to go, after five terms.

In Brooklyn's newly created 48th Council District, which has a high concentration of Orthodox Jews and Russian immigrants, Democrat Chaim Deutsch, founder of the Flatbush Shomrim volunteer security patrol prevailed over Republican David Storobin, a Russian immigrant and lawyer who briefly served in the state Senate.

In other Council races Daniel Garodnick won another term in his Midtown/Upper East Side district while Ben Kallos and Helen Rosenthal captured vacant Upper East Side seats. Newcomer Mark Levine won the seat vacated by Councilman Robert Jackson in upper Manhattan, including Morningside Heights. In Brooklyn Democrats Stephen Levin (Williamsburg), Brad Lander (Park Slope) and David Greenfield (Borough Park/Flatbush) each easily held onto their seats, while newcomer Mark Treyger was elected in Bensonhurst/Coney Island.

In Queens Rory Lancman, a former Assemblyman, will replace Councilman James Genarro in Briarwood, while Mark Weprin (Holliswood) and Karen Koslowitz (Forest Hills) will hold onto their seats, while in the Bronx Andrew Cohen will succeed G. Oliver Koppel in Riverdale.

In Nassau County, former county executive Tom Suozzi, a Democrat, failed in his comeback bid to unseat Republican Ed Mangano, winning just 41 percent of the vote. In Westchester, Republican Rob Astorino held onto his executive office, fending off a challenge by Democrat Noah Bramson.

adam@jewishweek.org

Last Update:

05/12/2014 - 12:59

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I wonder if Jewish support for Lhota, the Republican, is backlash against the Democrats open hostility towards Israel and unwavering sympathy towards Palestinians?

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