Tevi Troy and Lanhee Chen tackle “the mystery of Jewish and Asian-American Democratic loyalty.” The existence of such loyalty is beyond dispute. The authors remind us that among Jews, Barack Obama’s support was 78 percent in 2008 and 70 percent in 2012. As for Asian-Americans, their support of Obama grew from 62 percent in 2008 to 73 percent four years later.
The extent of this loyalty is mysterious because, as the authors point out, socioeconomic factors might suggest greater support for conservative causes and candidates, as well as “wariness of Democrats who seem to regard success as shameful and higher taxes as a cure-all.” 25 percent of Jewish households in the U.S. have annual incomes over $150,000, according to a 2013 Pew Research Center survey, compared with only 8 percent of American households generally. And the Asian-American median household income of $72,689 is about $20,000 higher than the U.S. average, according to U.S Census Bureau data.
Why, then, are Jews and Asian-Americans so loyal to the Democratic party? Troy and Chen suggest that it’s due to higher education:
In the U.S. population at large, the possession of a college or postgraduate degree has been a predictor of Democratic Party affiliation. We believe, in particular, that the liberal leanings of many professors at elite schools likely play an important role.
Jews and Asian Americans populate elite schools in far greater numbers than their representation in the general population would imply:
Though they account for only about 2% of the U.S. population, according to Hillel’s Guide to Jewish Life at Colleges and Universities, Jews represent 10% of undergraduates at Princeton, 12% at Harvard and 27% at Yale. Asian-Americans are about 5% of the U.S. population, yet make up 22% of the class of 2019 at Princeton, 21.8% at Yale, and 21.1% of the admitted class at Harvard.
At institutions like these, they are exposed what Troy and Chen call “unrelenting progressive messaging from many of their professors, administrators and fellow students.” They emerge as liberals, vote for Democrats, and retain their political affiliation well into adulthood.
This is also true of the larger population at these schools, as well as schools further down the food chain whose professors tend to mimic those who proselytize at more prestigious institutions. But Troy and Chen suggest that Jews and Asian-Americans fall harder for the leftist views of their profs.
Why? Because of the special esteem in which Jewish and Asian-American parents tend to hold a college education, especially at a fancy school.
Troy and Chen ask whether the trend they describe will long continue. For what it’s worth, my guess is that as the Democratic party continues to veer leftward and becomes ever more an instrument for the transference of wealth to non-Asian minority groups, Asian-Americans will balk.
As for Jews, I’m less confident. I agree with Norman Podhoretz that, for a great many Jews, liberalism has replaced Judaism as their true religion. And I imagine that the vast majority of the Jews who arrive as freshmen at elite colleges are already quite liberal.
The effect of the indoctrination they then receive shouldn’t be discounted — it likely pulls them further to the left or, at a minimum, prevents or deters the rigorous thinking that might cause them to move towards the center. It cloaks their liberal instincts in rhetoric and jargon that hardens them.
But in the case of Jews, I suspect that leftist indoctrination in colleges and universities may be more of a reinforcer of ideology than anything else.