Obama Riding High With Jewish Voters

President Is on Track To Win Large Majority in November

Still the One: President Obama enjoys very strong support among Jewish voters. Just 7% of those who voted for him in 2008 say they won’t do so this time around.
getty images
Still the One: President Obama enjoys very strong support among Jewish voters. Just 7% of those who voted for him in 2008 say they won’t do so this time around.

By Nathan Guttman

Published April 03, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

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.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Slate.com's Allison Benedikt wrote that Taglit-Birthright Israel is partly to blame for the death of American IDF volunteer Max Steinberg. This is why she's wrong:
  • Israeli soldiers want you to buy them socks. And snacks. And backpacks. And underwear. And pizza. So claim dozens of fundraising campaigns launched by American Jewish and Israeli charities since the start of the current wave of crisis and conflict in Israel and Gaza.
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.