New York’s Jews overwhelmingly voted to re-elect Michael Bloomberg to a third term in the citywide elections for mayor on Tuesday.
According to exit polls, 75% of Jews voted for Bloomberg, a Republican-endorsed Independent candidate, while only 22% chose his Democratic opponent, City Comptroller Bill Thompson. Bloomberg achieved the same level of support during his first re-election bid in 2005.
The percentage of the overall vote that was Jewish also remained the same at 18 percent. This has been a consistent number in the last few mayoral elections, according to political analysts. The last time they were counted, in 2002, Jews made up 14 percent of the city’s population.
Overall turnout was, however, down, and the Jewish vote along with it. Whereas nearly 1.5 million New Yorkers voted in Bloomberg’s first mayoral race in 2001, 1.1 million voted on Tuesday.
David Pollock, associate executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, pointed out that even though New York’s Jewish population is changing, the Jewish percentage of the vote remains the same.
According to the 2002 Jewish Community Study of New York, 25% of New York City’s Jewish residents are Orthodox, while another 19% live in Russian-speaking households. Political analysts have wondered whether these groups would vote at the same rate as previous generations of New York Jews.
Still, Pollock said, there is bad news in the overall low turnout rate. Along with the rest of the city, fewer Jews voted.
“Jews are declining slower, but declining nevertheless,” Pollock said.
Gal Beckerman was a staff writer and then the Forward’s opinion editor until 2014. He was previously an assistant editor at the Columbia Journalism Review where he wrote essays and media criticism. His book reviews have appeared in The New York Times Book Review and Bookforum. His first book, “When They Come for Us, We’ll Be Gone: The Epic Struggle to Save Soviet Jewry,” won the 2010 National Jewish Book Award and the 2012 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature, as well as being named a best book of the year by The New Yorker and The Washington Post. Follow Gal on Twitter at @galbeckerman