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When Religious Voting Becomes Volatile: The Case of Jewish Voters in Britain

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  14 April 2020

Andrew Barclay*
The University of Manchester, The School of Social Sciences, The University of Manchester
Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Andrew Barclay, The University of Manchester, The School of Social Sciences, The University of Manchester, The Arthur Lewis Building, Oxford Road, Manchester, M139PL, United Kingdom. E-mail:


The political preferences of Britain's Jewish community, as well as the factors which underpin them, have been historically under-researched. This paper addresses this both empirically and conceptually. The study complements emerging evidence by showing that British Jews overwhelmingly support the Conservatives, but also employs longitudinal data for the first time to show that this association has strengthened sharply over recent election cycles. These findings highlight how existing theories of the effects of religious belonging on voting struggle to explain religious groups with volatile partisan preferences, such as British Jews. The paper therefore makes the case that the mechanism of party support should be understood differently in such cases. To this end, the findings presented here are consistent with the notion that security for Jews acts as a group utility heuristic, which leads voters to reward parties on the basis of how they are judged in prioritising security for Jews.

Copyright © Religion and Politics Section of the American Political Science Association 2020

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