As a survey specialist who has been involved in several dozen political and demographic studies of American Jews, I read with great interest Nathan Guttman’s June 14 article, “Are Jews Warming to the Tea Party?” The piece uses the results of a recent poll to suggest that Jews might be increasingly drawn to that mouthpiece of right-wing populism and anti-intellectualism. Steven Windmueller of Hebrew Union College, who designed and conducted the online poll, concludes that “a counter voice is emerging” in the national Jewish community, heretofore justifiably regarded as one of the most liberal groups in the country.
This surprising conclusion is based on a slender reed — that 42% of Jews who self-selected into Windmueller’s poll by clicking on links in Jewish organization websites marked that the Tea Party movement is “refreshing.” (An equal percentage responded that it is “alarming.”) “Refreshing” could mean that some Jews find the Tea Party frank, non-institutional, or even appealing in some of its positions (Examples: the government spends too much; the deficit is too high). It hardly constitutes evidence that any significant number of Jews are ready to vote for the Tea Party.
It is not hard to find other flaws in the research, including that the poll is not representative of the U.S. Jewish population. By Windmueller’s own admission, the poll’s sample “skews to the right compared with that of a scientifically selected random sample.”
Groeneman Research & Consulting, Inc.