Survey: Jewish Voters Still Heart Obama

President Obama at the White House Seder in 2010. <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/whitehouse/4474185181/sizes/m/in/photostream/" target="_blank">Flickr/White House</a>

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


The Public Religion Research Institute released the results of its comprehensive survey of American Jews on Tuesday. The group found that President Barack Obama retains “nearly identical to levels of support…among Jewish registered voters” to “a comparable point in the 2008 campaign.” That’s despite incessant, unending, shrieking speculation that Obama’s fumbled attempts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would cause American Jews—one of the most liberal demographics in the country—to suddenly decide they’re anti-abortion rights or want to see Social Security privatized.

The PRRI survey utilizes a large sample size of American Jews—more than 1000 registered Jewish voters responded to the group’s questions. A plurality of these voters, 46 percent, cite “commitment to social equality” as the quality most important to their Jewish identity, while only 20 percent say the same of support for Israel, the issue Republicans have sought to use as a wedge against the president. To the extent that there’s any disillusionment among American Jewish voters, it’s small: According to the survey, “only 7% of Jewish voters who supported Obama in 2008 say they would prefer to see a Republican candidate win the 2012 election.” Sixty-two percent of Jewish voters want to see Obama re-elected. If Obama’s approval were the same among white voters generally as it is with Jewish voters, he’d be running away with the 2012 election. 

The speculation that Obama’s approval rating among Jews is directly related to policy on Israel is itself a reductive stereotype. As George Washington University Professor John Sides wrote last year when polls showed American Jewish support for Obama declining, “The fixation on a trend among one group is doubly misleading because it gets your mind thinking about explanations idiosyncratic to that group.” So when the economy looked like it wasn’t improving at all, a dip in American Jewish support was read as the result of Middle East policy, rather than as a result of the same reason everyone else was giving Obama lower approval ratings.

This reoccuring non-controversy and speculation about the American Jewish vote has little to do with its actual influence on elections, which is fairly small. Instead it’s about constraining the political space any American president has to pursue an equitable and peaceful solution between Israelis and Palestinians. That’s why, despite being repeatedly debunked, the narrative that American Jews are about to defect en masse to the Republican Party will never permanently be put to bed. There’s a funny irony here, though: If Republicans ever actually succeeded in getting pro-Israel Democrats to abandon their party, bipartisan support for Israel in Congress would be adversely affected.

LET’S TALK ABOUT OPTIMISM FOR A CHANGE

Democracy and journalism are in crisis mode—and have been for a while. So how about doing something different?

Mother Jones did. We just merged with the Center for Investigative Reporting, bringing the radio show Reveal, the documentary film team CIR Studios, and Mother Jones together as one bigger, bolder investigative journalism nonprofit.

And this is the first time we’re asking you to support the new organization we’re building. In “Less Dreading, More Doing,” we lay it all out for you: why we merged, how we’re stronger together, why we’re optimistic about the work ahead, and why we need to raise the First $500,000 in online donations by June 22.

It won’t be easy. There are many exciting new things to share with you, but spoiler: Wiggle room in our budget is not among them. We can’t afford missing these goals. We need this to be a big one. Falling flat would be utterly devastating right now.

A First $500,000 donation of $500, $50, or $5 would mean the world to us—a signal that you believe in the power of independent investigative reporting like we do. And whether you can pitch in or not, we have a free Strengthen Journalism sticker for you so you can help us spread the word and make the most of this huge moment.

payment methods

LET’S TALK ABOUT OPTIMISM FOR A CHANGE

Democracy and journalism are in crisis mode—and have been for a while. So how about doing something different?

Mother Jones did. We just merged with the Center for Investigative Reporting, bringing the radio show Reveal, the documentary film team CIR Studios, and Mother Jones together as one bigger, bolder investigative journalism nonprofit.

And this is the first time we’re asking you to support the new organization we’re building. In “Less Dreading, More Doing,” we lay it all out for you: why we merged, how we’re stronger together, why we’re optimistic about the work ahead, and why we need to raise the First $500,000 in online donations by June 22.

It won’t be easy. There are many exciting new things to share with you, but spoiler: Wiggle room in our budget is not among them. We can’t afford missing these goals. We need this to be a big one. Falling flat would be utterly devastating right now.

A First $500,000 donation of $500, $50, or $5 would mean the world to us—a signal that you believe in the power of independent investigative reporting like we do. And whether you can pitch in or not, we have a free Strengthen Journalism sticker for you so you can help us spread the word and make the most of this huge moment.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate