For President Obama and the Jews, it’s starting to look like 2008 all over again.
A new survey of Jews shows 62% plan to vote for the president, roughly similar to where he stood at this time four years ago when he went on to garner nearly 80% of the Jewish vote in November.
About 30% of those surveyed in the new Public Religion Research Institute poll said they planned to vote for a Republican, with 17% naming GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney and the rest split between the other three candidates.
Even more importantly, just 7% of Jews who voted for Obama in 2008 now prefer a Republican candidate, indicating Obama does not face a significant fracturing of his Jewish base of support.
Aside from Obama, the poll found Jewish Americans remain largely liberal, supportive of Democrats, and focused on social and economic issues.
While much of the political debate within the Jewish community has centered in recent months on the issue of Israel and on President Obama’s relations with the Jewish state, the survey reinforces previous poll data that shows Jewish voters do not view Israel as a deciding factor when voting for president. A majority of 51% pointed to the economy as the most important issue to their vote, followed by gaps between rich and poor (15%), healthcare (10%) and the federal deficit (7%). Only 4% of Jewish voters said Israel is the most important issue for them when deciding for whom to vote.
RELATED: Jim Gerstein says Obama’s only problem with Jewish voters is that there aren’t more of them. Michael Bloomfield and Mark Mellman say predicting the Jewish vote is getting more complicated. Amy Cohen and Anna Greenberg write that Obama’s effort to hold onto Jewish support is part of a larger task of keeping his coalition intact.
Public Religion Research Institute is a non-partisan organization which focuses on the role of religion in American public life. The survey questioned 1,004 self-identifying Jews, including those who stated they are Jews by religion, by ethnicity or who are culturally Jewish. The margin of error is 5%.
The 62% support for Obama is strikingly similar to the numbers he received in a Gallup poll taken in June 2008. At that time, 62% of Jews said they planned to vote for Obama, compared to 31% who supported Republican John McCain.
Despite strong support for Obama, some Jewish voters are critical of his first term performance, possibly because they feel he has not achieved enough of their liberal objectives. Half of Jews identifying as Democrats express satisfaction with Obama’s achievements, but 31% of Democratic Jews said they feel disappointed, 13% are worried and 2% say they are angry.
Aside from presidential politics, the survey provides a window into the mindset of American Jewish voters, asking about the qualities most important for their Jewish identity. Nearly half of all surveyed point to a commitment to social justice as the most important quality. Support for Israel comes in a distance second with only 20% of Jews viewing it as an important quality, followed by religious observance, and cultural heritage.