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.
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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.
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Democrats give significantly more weight than to social equality than Republicans (54% to 22%) while support for Israel is the prominent factor among Republicans compared to Democrats(37% to 15%).

A slim majority of 54% of Jews think relations between the U.S. and Israel are as good as they were in the past, but a significant minority of 37% say relations have worsened in recent years. This feeling is stronger among Republicans, older Jews, and those who are affiliated with synagogues. When it comes to President Obama’s dealing with the Mideast conflict, only 20% agree both with Obama’s policies and with the way they’ve been executed; 15% like the policies but not the way Obama carried them out; and 28% disagree with Obama’s policies on the issue. More than a third of American Jews do not have an opinion on Obama’s policy toward the Israeli–Arab conflict.

American Jews support the establishment of a Palestinian state, with 53% backing the idea.

On Iran, nearly six in ten American Jews support a U.S. military action against Iran’s nuclear sites if economic sanctions fail. Republican Jews feel stronger on this issue than Jews who vote Democratic. At the same time, American Jews do not rank Iran as Israel’s greatest problem. Nine out of ten respondents pointed to the Israeli – Palestinian conflict as the main source of concern while only 83% believe it is Iran.

Jewish Americans, the survey found, strongly believe the government should play a greater role in reducing gaps between rich and poor and an overwhelming majority support the “Buffett rule” which calls for increasing tax for the rich. Most Jewish Americans (52%) state they’ll agree to pay more taxes to fund programs that help the poor. Jewish American also check all other boxes when it comes to defining liberal political positions. They strongly support abortion rights (93%), same-sex marriage (81%), and environmental regulation (69%). They believe the Supreme Court should not overturn health care laws.

When asked to rate whether public figures represent Jewish values, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu came in first with 73%, followed by Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan and New York mayor Michael Bloomberg. Senator Joseph Lieberman and comedian Jon Stewart are seen by 60% or more of respondents as representing Jewish values, while Majority Leader Eric Cantor and comedian Sarah Silverman share a lower rating of less than 40% seeing them as representing Jewish values.

Looking into the religious beliefs, the survey puts Reform as the largest denomination (35%) followed by Conservative (26%), Orthodox (8%), Reconstructionist (1%) and the “Just Jewish” or non-denominational Jews with 29%. These results are consistent with previous surveys of the Jewish community.

Synagogue affiliation, the survey found, is reatively low, with only 35% of Jews report to be members of a synagogue. The most important holiday for Jews is Yom Kippur (43%) followed by Passover (25%) with two thirds of Jewish respondents saying they plan to attend a Passover seder this year.

Nathan Guttman can be reached at guttman@forward.com


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