The New York Times published a map Saturday of precinct-by-precinct voting results from the recent presidential election. There were few surprises, the city resoundingly backed President Obama. Where this support wavered was in communities with large Orthodox Jewish populations.
“Mr. Obama’s worst precincts were in Orthodox Jewish areas like Ocean Parkway and Williamsburg in Brooklyn and Kew Gardens Hills in Queens. In a few precincts in Borough Park, Brooklyn, Mr. Romney won more than 90 percent of the vote,” the accompanying text said.
Ezra Friedlander, an Orthodox Jew who lives in Brooklyn and is the CEO of the PR firm The Freidlander Group says, “I wouldn’t say the result is surprising. I wouldn’t say I expected 90% in some precincts, but it is a conservative community in general.”
What Friedlander does find surprising is that many in the community, where, as the New York Times wrote “college degrees are rare and poverty rates have reached 43 percent,” rely on Democratic programs while still voting Republican. “In the short term many of the social programs advocated by the Democrats would be more beneficial to them–medicaid, section 8 housing, etc.”
The results were similar to those in the 2008 election which pitted Obama against John McCain. But Orthodox populations continue to grow, whereas more liberal Jewish communities that back Obama continue to diminish. According to The New York Times 40 percent of Jews in the city identify themselves as Orthodox, an increase from 33 percent in 2002; 74 percent of all Jewish children in the city are Orthodox. Reform and Conservative movements each lost about 40,000 members between 2002 and 2011.
“The community is cetainly proving it is one to be reckoned with,” says Friedlander.