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Polls show a small slip of Jewish voter from Biden to Trump. Could it impact the election?

American Jews overwhelmingly support Biden. But even small changes matter in such a tight election

Jewish Americans overwhelmingly favor and trust President Joe Biden over former President Donald Trump. But a pair of recent polls show a small slip of Jewish voters toward Trump compared to previous years, which may indicate that the president is struggling among both stalwart supporters of Israel and opponents of its military campaign in Gaza. In a contest as close as this presidential election is shaping up to be, even such small losses could make the difference on Election Day.

One of the polls, released on Wednesday by the non-partisan Jewish Electoral Institute, of 800 Jewish American adults, showed Biden leading Trump 67% to 24% in a head-to-head matchup, and 64% to 26% when a third-party candidate was an option. The poll was conducted by GBAO Strategies between April 16 and 21, via text and web.

It matched an online poll of 1,001 Jews by the American Jewish Committee which showed Biden with a 61-23 lead over Trump. 

These numbers represent a modest but gradual shift from Biden to Trump compared to the 2020 election and last year, predating the Israel-Hamas conflict.

According to an exit poll commissioned for J Street after the 2020 election, 77% of Jews voted for Biden, while Trump garnered 21%. In the recent  Jewish Electoral Institute poll, respondents said they favored Biden over Trump 74%-20%. In last year’s survey, Biden was at 72%. 

The Jewish Electoral Institute poll, by the same polling firm used by J Street, also showed a more negative attitude toward the president. Overall, 58% of Jews viewed Biden favorably, versus 39% who viewed him unfavorably, down five points since last year. The poll was given to media outlets without additional data that could show the makeup of Biden’s base of support,

While not statistically significant, the trends may indicate waning Jewish support for the incumbent president amid the war in Gaza. 

Will Israel matter in Election 2024?

Biden’s predicament with Jewish voters could emanate from either  or both ends of the spectrum of views on Israel. The pro-Israel constituency that traditionally votes for Democrats is frustrated with his administration’s criticism of Israel and a spat over weapons transfers. Left-leaning Jews are disillusioned by his handling of the conflict. 

This could potentially influence outcomes in crucial battleground states. Jewish voters are estimated between 1% to 3% of the electorate in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Arizona, Georgia, Nevada and Wisconsin — states that Biden won in 2020 by less than 3%.

Recent surveys suggest that while Jewish Americans don’t view Israel as a higher priority than abortion rights and the fight to preserve American democracy, they are watching Biden closely over his dealings with the Jewish state.

A poll commissioned for the Democratic Majority for Israel in December indicated that 44% of Jews were more likely to vote for Biden because of his staunch public support of the Jewish state. And an online survey of 800 Jews conducted by the Jewish People Policy Institute in March showed that 69% of those intending to vote for Biden thought Israel should enter Rafah to eliminate Hamas, despite Biden’s warning against it. 

Wednesday’s poll also showed that 81% of those surveyed feel emotionally attached to Israel. 

Former Rep. Martin Frost, a Democrat from Texas who chairs the Jewish Electoral Institute, said there is a silver lining for Biden in the recent polls: “American Jews largely remain committed to this administration and to the Democratic Party.”

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