Poll: Majority of Jewish Americans still solidly support President Obama

posted at 10:35 am on July 5, 2011 by Tina Korbe

After President Barack Obama revealed the suspect status of his support for Israel — and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wowed crowds with a sternly-worded address to a special joint session of Congress — some speculated Jewish American support for Obama would wane. But a new Gallup poll out yesterday shows a large majority still approve of the president.

Jewish Americans gave President Barack Obama a 60% job approval rating in June, down from 68% in May, but statistically unchanged from 64% in April. Thirty-two percent of U.S. Jews now disapprove of the job Obama is doing, similar to their 30% average thus far in 2011. …

President Obama delivered a major speech at the State Department on May 19 in which he articulated his support for a settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based on a return to Israel’s 1967 borders. His remarks provoked a highly negative reaction from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as from many high profile supporters of Israel in government, politics, and media.

Gallup cannot say whether the speech had an immediate impact on the views of Jewish Americans toward the president nationally, as sample sizes for this group in Gallup Daily tracking are too small to isolate short time periods.

However, aggregated Gallup Daily tracking interviews for the month and half periods prior to and following the speech show no significant nor sustained shift in Jewish Americans’ views toward Obama. Sixty-five percent approved of him for the April 1-May 18 time period, and 62% approved from May 19-June 30. Across the two time periods, approval was also essentially flat among all U.S. adults.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Jews who attend synagogue weekly — who tend to be more conservative, in general — are less supportive of Obama than those who don’t.

In general, the poll confirms what Ed said earlier:

The Jewish vote won’t suddenly swing to the GOP, for reasons that have nothing to do with Obama.  Jewish voters tend to be more progressive; the Democratic Party is a more natural home for them.  While there may be some truth in the notion that African-Americans are naturally more conservative and could be won over with a more concerted effort by Republicans to address their issues through debate (as Jack Kemp tried), that’s almost certainly not true of Jewish voters as a bloc.  The GOP position on Israel might be a better fit, but on domestic politics, they’ll keep voting Democratic.

But the official affirmation of Jewish support the poll provides is still good news for Obama, who needs every bit of approval he can muster heading into a difficult reelection. Of course, he especially needs any approval that will translate to campaign cash — and whether this poll actually contradicts what some have said, that the crucial category of politically active Jews are less enthused about Obama than ever before, remains to be seen. After all, the poll didn’t specifically seek out Jewish Americans noted for political involvement. It could be the (randomized) sample that so strongly supports Obama just happens to barely vote, let alone donate.


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