Southern Brooklyn

Poll Finds Generation Gap Emerging In Russian Vote

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Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny speaking in front of Brighton Beach’s Shorefront Y (Source: Brook-Krasny’s office)

A new report in The Jewish Week finds increasing generational voting differences between older and younger Russian voters in Southern Brooklyn.

The report, which centers around a study by Sam Kliger, a Russian-born sociologist who analyzes the community, indicates that while older and elderly Russians vote predominantly Republican, the younger voting slice of the Russian block is more likely to be undecided and consequently, more open to the Democratic alternative.

While on a whole Kliger’s numbers show that the 350,000 strong Russian community based in New York City, Long Island, Westchester County, and Northern and Central New Jersey are likely to vote for Republican Mitt Romney by a margin of 4-1, younger voters in this block (ages 18-35) are evenly split in the upcoming election.

In explaining the staunch loyalty of older Russians towards the Republican Party and Mitt Romney, the report indicates two main issues of vital importance; the support of Israel and the idea of “redistribution,” one of the loaded buzzwords central to the 2012 race.

For older Russians, many of them World War II veterans and Holocaust survivors, the perceived notion that the Republican Party is more staunchly loyal to Israel and tough on terrorists is of paramount importance. Also, the conjuring of any reminders of their days in the oppressive Soviet regime with talk of “redistribution of wealth” enlivens fears of a shift back to bleaker days.

In an interview, Republican State Senator David Storobin echoed these sentiments,

Older Russians — the ones who remember Soviet times — tend to be more conservative.” In light of those memories, he added, those elderly Jews view government as inefficient, corrupt and unresponsive.

What concerns or frustrates older Russian Jews, Storobin said, are terms like redistribution — “any slogan that’s the same as one used in the [former] Soviet Union.”

The emerging split of younger Russian voters from these hardline viewpoints seems to stem from a number of delicate factors brought on by fresher experiences and more open world views.

A discussion in the article with Democratic Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny illuminated this point,

Interviewed by phone, Brook-Krasny said he’s long predicted a 50-50 split among younger Russian-speaking Jews when it comes to presidential elections, followed in the near future by a majority of that population voting Democratic.

“The more educated people [in the community] get, the more liberal they vote,” the lawmaker said.

Whether or not Brook-Krasny’s belief that the majority of the voting block will eventually shift Democratic remains to be seen, but the local voting trends of the upcoming 2012 race might serve as an early indicator for future elections.

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