New Poll of Jews

By Brett Lieberman

Published October 08, 2008, issue of October 17, 2008.
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A new poll suggests that Barack Obama is still struggling to win over Jewish voters, but experts say the results may already be out of date.

The poll, released September 25 by the American Jewish Committee, showed Obama garnering just 57% of the Jewish vote, well below the level of support enjoyed by past Democratic nominees. Republican nominee John McCain drew 30% of the 914 respondents who identified themselves as Jews. Four years ago, a similar pre-election AJCommittee survey showed that 69% of Jewish voters supported Massachusetts Senator John Kerry.

Though this poll is similar to the results of others conducted last spring and summer by the Gallup Organization and the J Street political action committee, several pollsters and analysts questioned its results and significance. The poll, which has a 3% margin of error, covered some of Obama’s worst weeks in recent months on the campaign trail. The survey ended just as attention turned to the financial crisis, which, polls showed, hurt McCain.

One pollster went so far as to call it “ancient history,” because recent events have shifted and turned the presidential contest upside down again.

“It’s suggestive of some conclusions about the Jewish community, but because of the long time of the poll, because of changing circumstances, I don’t find it particularly instructive or helpful in explaining what’s going on in the Jewish community,” said analyst Stuart Rothenberg, editor of his respected independent newsletter, The Rothenberg Political Report.






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