Hillary Clinton is leading Donald Trump by a whopping 3-to-1 margin among Jewish voters — but may still has work to do to line up the support that previous Democratic candidates won on Election Day.
A new survey of Jewish opinions conducted by the American Jewish Committee found that 61% of American Jews intend to vote for Clinton, while 19% will support Donald Trump in the November elections. The survey found that 8% of Jewish Americans are still undecided and 9% intend to vote for third party candidates - 6% for Libertarian Gary Johnson and 3% for Jill Stein of the Green Party.
While the poll affirms the strong support Clinton enjoys among Jewish voters, it also highlights the fact that her personal unpopularity may make it difficult to reach the level of support that Democratic candidates in previous elections enjoyed. The same AJC survey conducted in 2012 put Barack Obama in a 65% to 24% lead over his rival at the time, Mitt Romney, with nearly 10% registering as undecided.
“We still have a lot of work to do,” said Jewish Democratic consultant Aaron Keyak. “No one should take this election for granted, not even in the Jewish community.”
The AJC survey of American Jewish opinions, which is conducted annually, polled 1002 Jews over the age of 18 and has a margin of error of 3.5%.
Clinton’s less than overwhelming support rate among Jewish voters at this point in the race, which was first flagged in internal polling earlier in the race, is, according to a Democratic activist, a sign that negative feelings about the Democratic candidate have penetrated the Jewish community as well. The activist that Donald Trump is a “less qualified candidate” than Republicans who ran for office in the past, a fact that should have helped Clinton’s numbers among Jewish voters.
The comparison to Obama’s success among Jewish voters is not completely valid, because the current AJC poll included the option of voting for a third party candidate, which was not a possibility in 2012. The 9% of Jewish Americans who declare now they will vote for Johnson or Stein, might not actually do so at the ballot when it becomes clear their candidate does not have a chance to win.
The poll did not find any major ideological shifts among Jewish Americans, who continue to lean heavily toward liberal values and to the Democratic Party. Only 24% of American Jews identify as conservative. In terms of party affiliation, 51% say they consider themselves Democrats, and 18% identify as Republicans.
Counting only those who plan to vote, Clinton’s share rises to 66 percent and Trump’s to 21.
Reform Jews are likeliest to favor Clinton over Trump, 74 percent to 10 percent; Reconstructionists prefer Clinton 71 percent to 0 percent for Trump and 15 percent for Stein; “just Jewish” chooses Clinton over Trump, 60 to 17 percent; and Conservative Jews favor Clinton over Trump, 57-29 percent.
Among Orthodox respondents, as in recent elections, preferences are flipped, with respondents likelier to favor Trump — to a degree. Trump does not do as well with this subset as Clinton does overall. Orthodox respondents favor Trump at 50 percent, Clinton at 21 percent, Johnson at 6 percent and Stein at 1 percent, with 15 percent saying they will not vote.
Asked about anti-Semitism in the United States, 73 percent said it was somewhat of a problem or a very serious problem, while 26 percent said it was not much of a problem or not a problem at all. Regarding university campuses, 57 percent said anti-Semitism was a very serious problem or somewhat of a problem, while 27 percent said it was not much of a problem or not a problem at all.
The AJC did not poll specifically on Israel as a priority, but it was a rare high note among those polled, with 73 percent saying U.S.-Israel relations were fairly good or very good compared to 25 percent saying they were fairly poor or very poor. Asked to respond to the sentiment “Caring about Israel is a very important part of my being a Jew,” 73 percent agreed strongly or somewhat, while 26 percent disagreed strongly or somewhat. Asked whether an independent Palestine could exist peacefully alongside Israel, 49 percent said yes and 20 percent said no.
Among religious streams, respondents broke down as 34 percent Reform, 18 percent Conservative, 9 percent Orthodox and 2 percent Reconstructionist. Thirty-four percent said they were “just Jewish.”—With JTA
Nathan Guttman, staff writer, was the Forward’s Washington bureau chief. He joined the staff in 2006 after serving for five years as Washington correspondent for the Israeli dailies Haaretz and The Jerusalem Post. In Israel, he was the features editor for Ha’aretz and chief editor of Channel 1 TV evening news. He was born in Canada and grew up in Israel. He is a graduate of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.