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Washington — PRRI’s poll supports this explanation. Jewish voters, the survey found, are as liberal and socially progressive as any slice of the American electorate.
Nearly half of all surveyed point ed to a commitment to social justice as the most important quality. Support for Israel came in a distant second, with 20% of Jews viewing it as an important quality, followed by religious observance and cultural heritage.
Jews strongly believe that the government should play a greater role in reducing gaps between rich and poor, and an overwhelming majority of them support the “Buffett Rule,” which calls for increasing taxes for the rich. Most Jews (52%) state they’ll agree to pay more taxes to fund programs that help the poor.
Jewish voters checked all other boxes when it came to defining liberal political positions. They strongly supported abortion rights (93%), same-sex marriage (81%) and environmental regulation (69%). They said the Supreme Court should not overturn health care laws.
Despite strong support for Obama, some Jewish voters were critical of his first-term performance, possibly because they felt he has not achieved enough of their liberal objectives.
Half of the Jews identifying as Democrats expressed satisfaction with Obama’s achievements, but 31% of Democratic Jews said they were disappointed, while 13% said they were worried and 2% said they were angry. Luntz told the Forward that his own polling data suggested that Jewish support for Obama does not have the intensity it had in 2008.
Of the 30% of American Jews who said they’ll vote for a Republican candidate, the clear choice was Mitt Romney, with 17%. Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul all trailed far behind.
Brooks pointed to the 30% figure as a “fabulous” number for Republicans, who have not seen such numbers since Ronald Reagan’s run against Jimmy Carter in 1980.
The poll also included nuggets of information about Jews’ views on the Middle East conflict. A slim majority of 54% of Jews thought relations between the United States and Israel were as good as they were in the past, but a significant minority of 37% said relations have worsened in recent years. This feeling was stronger among Republicans, older Jews and those affiliated with synagogues.
When it came to Obama’s handling of the Middle East conflict, only 20% agreed both with his policies and the way they’ve been executed; 15% liked the policies but not the way Obama carried them out, and 28% disagreed with Obama’s policies on the issue. More than one-third of American Jews do not have an opinion on Obama’s policy toward the Israeli-Arab conflict.
A solid 53% of Jews backed the establishment of a Palestinian state.
On Iran, nearly six in 10 American Jews supported action against Iran’s nuclear sites if economic sanctions failed. Republican Jews felt stronger about this issue than Jews who voted Democratic. At the same time, Jews did not rank Iran as Israel’s greatest problem. Nine out of 10 respondents pointed to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a major source of concern, compared to 83% who cited Iran.
The poll included 1,004 self-identifying Jews, including those who stated they are Jews by religion or by ethnicity, or that they are culturally Jewish. The poll’s margin of error is 5%.
Contact Nathan Guttman at email@example.com