October 2024 Calendar With Jewish Holidays

The 2024 Jewish voter fallout: Democrats are testing how much this loyal voting bloc can take

In the spring and summer of 1979, a series of diplomatic missteps and miscommunications contributed to then-President Jimmy Carter losing a greater share of the Jewish vote than any Democratic presidential candidate in American history. The Carter administration’s most significant error stemmed from maneuvering at the United Nations. 

October Calendar  with Jewish Holidays Template - Edit Online
October Calendar with Jewish Holidays Template – Edit Online

When Arab states introduced Security Council Resolution 465 condemning Israeli settlements and describing Jerusalem as “occupied territory,” Carter wisely declined to support the resolution. Later, believing that the objectionable language had been removed, Carter and then-Secretary of State Cyrus Vance approved a vote in support, only to learn after the fact that much of the inflammatory language about Jerusalem had been retained. This blunder not only propelled Carter to lose to Sen. Ted Kennedy in the New York primary, but it cost him 26 points of the Jewish vote that had supported him in 1976, dropping from 71% to 45% support in the 1980 general election. Worried about rising antisemitism and unsure of Carter’s intentions for Israel, Jewish voters abandoned Carter in favor of independent candidate John Anderson. Ronald Reagan’s 39% was also the highest share of the Jewish vote for a Republican nominee since Dwight Eisenhower.

Residents line up to vote at a polling station in Kiryas Joel, New York. Almost all of the residents are ultra-Orthodox Jews in this village of 23,000, located 50 miles north of New York City. (Mark Lennihan / AP Photo)

October  Jewish Calendar with Hebrew Holidays
October Jewish Calendar with Hebrew Holidays

How quaint yesteryear’s outrage over U.N. machinations seems from the vantage of spring 2024. In the seven months since Hamas’s barbaric Oct. 7 attack, we’ve witnessed a concerted and emboldened effort by Democratic leaders in the administration and Congress to force maximum appeasement by Israel and empower antisemitic behavior in public life. Importantly, this has been the Biden administration’s instinct from the start. On the day of the attacks, Secretary of State Antony Blinken initially posted that he “encouraged Turkey’s advocacy for a ceasefire and the release of all hostages by Hamas immediately” only to delete the post and replace it with “Israel has the right to defend itself, rescue any hostages, and protect its citizens.” On the same day, the State Department’s Office of Palestinian Affairs posted that it “unequivocally condemned the attack of Hamas terrorists and the loss of life that has incurred. We urge all sides to refrain from violence and retaliatory attacks. Terror and violence solve nothing” — only to delete and replace it with a generic condemnation of the attack.

Thus, from early October, even as President Joe Biden told Israel, “You are not alone,” his embrace seemed designed to constrain America’s chief ally in the Middle East rather than empower it. As the weeks unfolded, a diplomatic charade of the administration talking tough to Israel in public while effectively greenlighting its operations in private gave way to clear attempts to undermine the legitimacy of Israel’s prosecution of a just war, most notably Biden’s State of the Union quip that he and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were going to have a “Come to Jesus” conversation. In March, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) took to the Senate floor to issue a call for new elections to replace Netanyahu — an unprecedented and brazen attempt to interfere with the internal affairs of a close ally. Then, finally, after the World Central Kitchen tragedy, Biden seized on the moment to try and force Israel to stand down, accusing Israel of not doing enough to protect aid workers or civilians and calling for an immediate ceasefire. Continuing in form after Iran’s unprecedented direct attack on Israel two weeks later, the administration leaked that Biden told Netanyahu to “take the win” rather than retaliate.

Jewish Rutgers University students and members of the community hold a vigil to show solidarity for Israel on Oct. 25 in New Brunswick, New Jersey. (Andres Kudacki/AP)

Finally, in an unprecedented attempt to undermine Israel in negotiations and on the battlefield, Biden announced on Wednesday that an invasion of Rafah would result in the United States halting shipments of critical offensive weaponry.

“I made it clear that if they go into Rafah — they haven’t gone in Rafah yet — if they go into Rafah, I’m not supplying the weapons that have been used historically to deal with Rafah, to deal with the cities — that deal with that problem,” Biden told CNN.

“We’re going to continue to make sure Israel is secure in terms of Iron Dome and their ability to respond to attacks that came out of the Middle East recently,” he added. “But it’s, it’s just wrong. We’re not going to — we’re not going to supply the weapons and artillery shells.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., on March 14 called on Israel to hold new elections. Schumer says he believes Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has “lost his way” amid the Israeli bombardment of Gaza and a growing humanitarian crisis there. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Meanwhile, across the U.S., the landscape of the public square has been equally bleak. The administration hesitated to confront thinly, if at all, veiled antisemitism masquerading as progressive principle for fear of internal backlash. Only belatedly did Biden make a speech and announce expanded campus antisemitism initiatives as the protests and the school year wound down. What began with callously tearing down missing fliers for Israeli and American hostages has metastasized into full-fledged rebellion against support for the only Western democracy in the Middle East in favor of an open-armed embrace of terrorist entities such as Hamas and Hezbollah. As campuses across the nation descend into violence and antisemitic attacks have spiked nearly 400% since Oct. 7, one can only wonder how much is too much for American Jews.

The Jewish abandonment of Carter in 1980 proved to be an anomaly. Without another exception, Jewish voters have overwhelmingly supported Democrats since the early 20th century. In 2021, the Pew Research Center found nearly 7 in 10 Jewish voters still support Democrats. However, the simmering tension in the Democratic coalition between its traditional (Jewish-supported) wing and the newer, progressive flank has reached a flashpoint. To that end, AIPAC has committed to spending $100 million in Democratic primaries against progressive candidates in what looks to be an all-out war within the party. 

In 1979, Carter frantically reached out to Jewish groups after realizing his administration’s error. By contrast, in 2024 the Biden team seems much more concerned with losing Arab support in Michigan. Barely a month after the Oct. 7 attack, NBC News reported on polling in the state that found two-thirds of Arab and Muslim Democrats opposing Biden and three-quarters willing to consider a third candidate. There are 240,000 Muslims in Michigan, a state Biden won in 2020 by 150,000 votes. By comparison, the state is home to just over 100,000 Jewish adults. However, it is unclear if Biden’s cynical math will play well in the rest of the battleground states.

Sen. John Fetterman, D-Pa., holds a small Israel flag as he heads to the chamber for a vote, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 25, 2024. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

If Sen. John Fetterman’s (D-PA) rejection of the progressive label and forceful moral clarity in support of Israel is any indication, the Pennsylvania voters Biden needs are likely nonplussed by his Israel policy. In a recent interview with Chris Stirewalt, Fetterman gave an idea of how university radicalism is seen by Pennsylvanians, saying, “There is a germ of antisemitism in all of these protests — and sometimes it flares up.” The junior senator then continued, “Israel has not only a right to defend itself but to strike back against its aggressors. … For true peace, you cannot allow Hamas to function.” This is a position at direct odds with the Biden administration’s efforts to prevent an invasion of Rafah and the ultimate defeat of Hamas.

Will enough Jewish voters abandon Biden to make a difference in the 2024 outcome? Outside of the Orthodox community, former President Donald Trump remains wildly unpopular. Furthermore, there are extreme elements on the Right, such as Nick Fuentes and the Proud Boys, with their own history of trafficking in antisemitism. But despite Trump’s execrable equivocation over Charlottesville, the vast majority of the Right has repudiated this element time and again, consigning it to the margins of political discourse. Former Rep. Steve King is no longer in Congress. Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) is a pariah. This stands in stark contrast to the progressive embrace of the rank antisemitism of Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN) or the indefensible timidity on display in the face of deplorable behavior on elite campuses across America. 

It’s easy to envision a scenario in which many Jewish voters just don’t show up on Election Day. Furthermore, many Jewish voters are highly concentrated in bright blue states that Biden will surely carry regardless of turnout. 


But even if Jewish voters don’t abandon Biden in battleground states, the rest of America is watching, and they do not share Biden’s hesitation about Israel. In fact, the Harvard CAPS-Harris survey consistently finds that 80% of voters support Israel in its conflict with Hamas. And while people typically don’t vote on foreign policy, the outlandish campus protests are transmogrifying this into one about American values. 

Voters who may not be moved by the foreign policy component are likely to have strong feelings about intifada banners hanging from university administration buildings and Palestinian flags flown in place of Old Glory. An escalation of these tactics in Chicago this summer by an emboldened progressive wing could very well spell electoral disaster for Biden in November.

Steve Stampley (@stevestampley) is a conservative writer and former Hill staffer. He’s contributed to the Washington Examiner, the Dispatch, National Review, ArcDigital, and elsewhere.