It is often contended that Jews are over-represented among influential leftists. This post tests this claim by aggregating names from several lists of influential liberals and estimating the proportion of people on these lists who are Jewish. I do the same for lists of influential conservatives and find that Jews are over-represented among the elites on both sides of the political spectrum but that this over-representation is much stronger on the left than on the right.
Method and Sample
To find lists of influential conservatives and liberals, I entered the search terms “top influential conservatives” and “top influential liberals” into google. I took each list done on American politics which appeared in the first 10 pages of results. Naturally, such lists have an element of subjectivity to them. However, there is no reason to think they would be biased with respect to their representation of Jews. Given this, they can be taken as reasonable estimates of the frequency of Jews among influential political figures.
For conservatives, the lists used were as follows: John Hawkin’s 25 most influential people on the right, 2013 and 2014 editions, the Independent Journals “25 Most Loved and Hated Conservatives in America“, Anthea Mitchell’s “10 Most Influential Voices in the Republican Party Today“, The Daily Beast’s “The Right’s Top 25 Journalists”, and the Telegraph’s “The Most Influential U.S. Conservatives“. Together, these lists provided 133 unique names.
For liberals, the lists used were as follows: The Daily Beast’s “The Left’s Top 25 Journalists“, Forbe’s “The 25 Most Influential Liberals in the U.S.”, and the Telegraph’s “The Most Influential U.S. Liberals“. Together, these lists provided 134 unique names.
To determine whether or not someone is Jewish I used Wikipedia. A person was counted as Jewish if their Wikipedia entry made any mention of them having Jewish ancestry. Wikipedia is a less than perfect source. However, formal tests of its accuracy suggest that it is nearly as accurate as the Encyclopedia Britannica. Wikipedia will fail to mention that some Jews are Jewish. Therefore, these estimates are probably somewhat lower than the real numbers. However, there is no good reason to think that Wikipedia would be more likely to identify the Jewish ancestry of liberals or conservatives. Because of this, a comparison of Jewish over-representation among Liberals and Conservatives should be valid. People whose names appeared in one of the lists but who did not have a Wikipedia page were excluded from the data set.
Jews were found to account for 8.3% of Influential Conservatives and 29.3% of influential Liberals. Given that Jews account for around 2% of the total U.S. population, this implies that Jews are roughly 4 times more likely than non Jews to be an influential conservative and roughly 15 times more likely than non-Jews to be an influential liberal. Thus, Jews were roughly 3 times more likely to be an influential liberal than an influential conservative. The difference between these proportions was significant at a 1% significance level.
I know of a few similar analyses to this one done by others. First, The Audacious Epigone analyzed the Telegraph’s 2007 lists of the 100 most influential U.S. liberals/conservatives and found that 24% of influential liberals were Jewish compared to 23% of influential conservatives. Second, the author of the blog “Race/Evolution/History Notes” analyzed two lists of America’s most influential communists and found that 9 out of 28, or 32%, were Jewish. He also analyzed Forbes’s 25 Most Influential Liberals in the U.S. list, a list which was included in my analysis, and found that 14, or 56%, were Jewish.
Both estimates of Jewish representation among influential liberals are similar to my own. However, The Audacious Epigone’s estimate of Jewish representation among influential conservatives is much higher than mine. It is possible that Jewish influence on the right has fallen since 2007. Given the stereotypical Jewish character of the neo con movement, and the influence that neo cons had during the Bush administration, this is not implausible. It is also possible that our differing results are a rest of variation in how we determine who is and is not Jewish. My impression is the The Audacious Epigone goolges around looking for as much information on each person as he can find. I chose to use a more standardized approach both because white nationalists might make a leftist’s jewish ancestry easier to discover on google and because any biases I have may have influenced how much time and effort I spent on each person.
|John Paul Stevens||No|
|George J. Mitchell||No|
|Peter R. Orszag||Yes|
|John O. Brennan||No|
|Thomas E. Donilon||No|
|James L. Jones||No|
|Markos Moulitsas Zuniga||No|
|Tom J. Donohue||No|
|Victor Davis Hanson||No|
|Michael P. Murphy||No|
|Jon Huntsman, Jr.||No|