Voting Behavior

Voting Behavior

Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.

It is becoming more and more apparent–even before the debate—that for Hillary to win this election it may well all come down to voter turnout. In some states, voter registration is already completed and early voting begins or has already begun in many states.  There will be a need Hillary to insure support from three critical constituencies—African-American, Latino, and young people (especially Bernie Sanders supporters)–who could be critical in determining the final voter turnout. A failure to effectively mobilize these constituencies could be decisive for her campaign.

For the African-American voters a new variable has entered into the equation. The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement in the Black community could make demands on Clinton which she will be unable to meet. The BLM supporters may opt to stay home. In addition, in light of the dramatic increase in racial incidents over the past days and weeks, Blacks in general may be so angry at what they view as a failed system that they may sit out the entire election in significant numbers. Only a dramatic effort by President Obama, specifically targeting African Americans, might be able to secure the necessary large Black turnout which Hillary will be required to win.

In addition, last week the Steinhardt Social Research Institute at Brandeis University released a very significant new study of potential critical Jewish voting in November. In a state by state and county by county analysis, the study analyzed for the first time ever specifically where Jewish voters live, how critical is their voting bloc in that location, what percentage of the total voting bloc do they represent, and what are their likely voting preferences.

There is a confirmed historical pattern that Jewish turnout percentage tends to be dramatically higher than the general population. In a number of states, in many key counties, in key swing states– including Bucks County, Pennsylvania; Palm Beach County, Florida; Fulton and DeKalb Counties, Georgia; Denver and adjoining counties, Colorado; and Raleigh-Durham and Charlotte-Mecklenburg, North Carolina– Jews are an even more significant voting bloc than had been assumed. While the study did suggest that there may be more Jews today who are politically conservative, this fact did not correlate with their preference for the Republican Party and/or for Donald Trump. The study still suggested that Jews do remain largely more liberal than other largely white population groups.

All of these observations as well as more that undoubtedly will be forthcoming after tomorrow’s first debate, suggest that the polling data looking ahead could get more and more complex and nuanced.  

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