Monday, September 26, 2011

Jews are disappointed in Obama but will vote for him anyway

The annual American Jewish Committee poll found that Obama is regarded poorly in the Jewish community. Forty-eight percent disapprove of his performance, while 45% approve. His performance on the economy is rated much worse: only 37% approve and 60% disapprove. On Israel, 53% disapprove of Obama’s handling of U.S.-Israel relations, and only 40% give him a thumbs up. The GOP contender who would do best against Obama with Jewish voters is Mitt Romney, who gets 32% of the vote in the survey and drags Obama down to 50% (from his 78% in 2008). Texas Gov. Rick Perry got 25%, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) got 19% and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie got 26%. As for the particulars of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, Jews substantive positions are at odds with Obama on a variety of topics. Fifty-five percent disapprove of a Palestinian state, and 59% think that Israel shouldn’t compromise on Jerusalem. Overwhelming majorities of Jews think that the United States should cut off aid to a Hamas-Fatah government and that the PA should recognize Israel as a Jewish state. A word of caution about the poll: Only 29% of those surveyed identified themselves as Reform Jews, and 37% identified themselves as “Just Jews” (likely non-affiliated or non-engaged Jews), while Conservative and Orthodox Jews (who are the most conservative politically and upset by Obama’s stance on Israel) collectively account for 31% of the Jewish population. Other studies have suggested that the Jewish population is much more tilted toward Reform Jews and “Just Jews.” This suggests that the AJC poll may be slightly more anti-Obama than the larger Jewish community. This is backed up by the fact that Orthodox respondents disapprove of "Obama’s handling of his job as President" at a much higher rate: 72%, compared to 48% for Conservative and 44% for Reform.

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