I want to be as neutral as possible, but since both topics (Jews and politics) are historically inflamatory, I'll caveat that if anyone disagrees, I would welcome constructive suggestions on how to edit the question.

My premises are as following:

  1. Jews are very active in politics in the United States and specifically in the Democratic Party politics. In fact, they are so active in the Democratic Party politics, that the common understanding in the United States is that most of jewish voters always vote for Democrats.

  2. Former Soviet Jews who came to the United States as refugees may have a natural inclination against left-leaning ideas (because they escaped a far-left regime).

As (albeit anecdotal) evidence for the 2nd premise, I would turn to the personal history of the author of the most widely-read conservative advocacy novel "Atlas Shrugged". Regardless of one's own political persuation, it's very clear that the novel's villains are leftists and its heroes are conservatives. The author of Atlas Shrugged was a former Soviet jew who, having escaped the Soviet Union in 1919, was probably one of the 1st jewish refugees from the Soviet Union.

In my personal experience, the Jews who escaped the Soviet Union have been much more Republican-leaning than Democrat-leaning. But that is also anecdotal.

Having setup the context, I'd like to get to my actual question:

There was a significant immigration wave of Jewish refugees who came to the United States around the time of the collapse of the Soviet Union. As a result of this, these refugees represent a large percentage of the Jews living in the United States.

Are there any scientific demographic studies of political differences between political views of Jews who immigrated from the USSR to the United States and political views of other Jews living in the United States?

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    "As a result of this, these refugees represent a large percentage of the Jews living in the United States." this is pretty much false (although it depends on how you define "large percentage")
    – Colin
    Feb 18, 2018 at 8:32
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    " In fact, they are so active in the Democratic Party politics, that the common understanding in the United States is that most of jewish voters always vote for Democrats." the average voting preference for a demographic group has nothing to do with its level of political activity
    – Colin
    Feb 18, 2018 at 8:34
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    There are between 5.5 million and 8 million American Jews (Wikipedia), of which about 700,000 are Russian-speaking immigrants (ajcrussian.org). So about 10% of American Jews are Russian immigrants. That's a bigger number than I expected, but not "a large percentage".
    – arp
    Feb 18, 2018 at 14:18
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    is that most of jewish voters always vote for Democrats. citation needed? Most Jews tend to be pro-Israel, and its the Republican party that lines up with that much more than the Democrats. Feb 18, 2018 at 21:17
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    I would expect that anyone who lived in an actually communist country would just laugh at the idea that the US Democratic party is "left-leaning". I mean, sure, it's not as far to the right as the Republicans but a party that can't even agree that universal healthcare is a good thing really isn't leaning to the left at all. "The left" in the US would be described as "right-of-centre" in Europe. Feb 19, 2018 at 14:26

2 Answers 2


Yes. There is a tremendous schism. To use a technical statistical term the schism is earth-shattering.

Plagiarizing my own Skeptics.SE answer:

  • Overall, American Jews tend to vote 70-90% Democrat in Presidential elections.

  • An overwhelming majority of educated immigrants from former Soviet Union are hard-anti-progressive (technically speaking, they usually vote "R", but if you go into nuance, most are libertarian-ish politically - most of them not so much as vote "for Republicans", as "against Democrats" - literally, if you ask, that is their line of thinking). This would be testable in a ranked choice voting systems, but US is predominantly FPTP, so most people tactically choose "R" regardless of true preference.

    There isn't too much polling on it as the demographics isn't prominent enough, but what there is, supports this. The poll #s below were sourced from "Russian-Jewish Immigrants in the U.S:Social Portrait, Challenges, and AJC Involvement" By Sam Kliger, Director, Russian Affairs, AJC. Specifically, "Voting patterns 2000–08" section of "Political Views" chapter.

    • 2004: 77% of Russian-speaking Jews in New York voted for the Republican incumbent GW Bush over his Democratic challenger John Kerry who got 9%

    • Similar pattern in 2008: McCain 65%, Obama 10%

    • In 2011, in special Congressional election to replace Anthony Wiener (NY Congressman who resigned prematurely due to a sex scandal), Russian Jews voted 90% for the Republican candidate (Note: "D" candidate was Jewish; "R" candidate was not, so this was even more dramatic).

Additional citations can be found in "The New Jewish Diaspora: Russian-Speaking Immigrants in the United States ..." edited by Zvi Gitelman, Zvi Y. Gitelman; p. 116 (but I wasn't able to find citable text, just search inside Google books). Their main source for USA seems to be Kliger as well, though.

In addition, being a fUSSR Jewish immigrant myself, I can fully confirm this. Out of everyone in my demographics I know, less than 5% ever considered supporting Democrats, 0% if you exclude people who graduated from American colleges. in 2016, most of them are what 538 classifies as "Reluctant Trump Voters", meaning, they voted against Hillary Clinton regardless of who was on the "R" ballot. For extra irony, you can't even blame this on Russia somehow, as they tend to be far more anti-Russia than most Americans, having experienced much more severe antisemitism in Russia than they did in the States.

Please note that this isn't a US-only phenomenon. In Israel, the most preeminent "Russian" political party, "Yisrael Beiteinu", firmly belongs in the Likud coalition at least as of 2019 both politically and ideologically on most issues except Orthodox/secular divides (and has even merged with Lukud for a time). For those who bring the 2021 status quo as counter-argument, please note that the post-2019 realignment is about things unrelated to left/right side - their break with Netaniyahu was in large part driven by the latter's tie at the hip to ultra-religious parties rather than typical ideological differences.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. Feb 20, 2018 at 5:23
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    P.S. I wasn't able to access Dietz's research on Germany (behind academic paywalls), but anecdotally it's the same there.
    – user4012
    Feb 20, 2018 at 12:16
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    This also isn't a Jewish issue. People of Cuban descent overwhelmingly vote Republican when compared to the rest of the Hispanic Community in the United States, who are more likely to vote for Democrats in overwelming numbers. Asian communities typically are reliable Republican voters until only within recent memory when second and third generation children of Asian Immigrants started outnumbering first generation Immigrants.
    – hszmv
    May 24, 2018 at 17:32

Sam Kliger, Director, Russian Affairs, American Jewish Committee (founded in 1906 by American Jews concerned about Russian Pogroms) has written about Russian-Jewish Immigrants in the U.S.

He notes that there were several waves of immigration from the Soviet Union to the USA, depending on the availability of exit visas and whether Jewish people would be granted asylum in the USA. Those people who arrived during the détente in the 1970s form a separate sub-culture from those who arrived following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Since 2001 there has been low levels of immigration as refugee status is not automatically or normally available. The community is strongly New York centred.

There is a perception of recent Jewish immigrants as being less assimilated to US culture, less observant of the religion, and more right-wing. Recent Jewish immigrants often have stronger links to Israel than those who have lived in the US for longer.

But there is not uniform support for the policies of the Republican party. For example there is support for legal abortion.

During the 80s there was strong support in the community for Reagan. Following the Soviet Union's collapse the community moved towards the centre left, with support for Clinton and Gore. More recently there has been a shift back to the right. Majorities supported Bush in his re-election and very low levels of support for Obama. This is likely to be due to perceived support for Israel.

In 2011 Bob Turner (R) won a congressional seat in Brooklyn-Queens with overwhelming support of the Russian community (which was majority Jewish) despite the Democrat himself being Jewish.

There is evidence for a distinct separation between Russian Jews who emigrated to the USA between 1991 and 2001, and the rest of the Jewish community. They tend to be more right-wing, pro-Israel and more globally oriented. They are also one of the most highly educated groups in the USA, and relatively wealthy which (prior to 2016) correlated with voting Republican.

  • Oups, I just realized I cited the same research you did (I did cite it originally years ago, so I think mine takes precedence :)
    – user4012
    Feb 18, 2018 at 16:19
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    " relatively wealthy" - (1) do you have any evidence that fUSSR Jews are "relatively wealthy" compared to US born Jews? I'm very skeptical, since building actual wealth is not a single-generation project accessible to first generation immigrants. (2) Moreover, and even more importantly, wealthy US-born Jews are just as likely to be Democrat as non-wealthy ones. Wealth vs. party may have some (more complicated than your quote implies) correlation in general public, but not for Jews.
    – user4012
    Feb 19, 2018 at 4:21

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