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January 17, 2013

Economy more than anything drove Jewish vote, poll data shows

http://www.jewishjournal.com/nation/article/economy_more_than_anything_drove_jewish_vote_poll_data_shows

Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama during the second U.S. presidential debate in Hempstead, N.Y., on Oct. 16, 2012. Photo by Mike Segar/Reuters

Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama during the second U.S. presidential debate in Hempstead, N.Y., on Oct. 16, 2012. Photo by Mike Segar/Reuters

The economy was the strongest determinant for Jews who voted for Barack Obama, according to an analysis of polling data.

"Not only do Jews hold fairly liberal to progressive positions on economic justice issues, their views on such matters emerge as the principal decision-making fulcrum in their choice for president, as well as for senators and congressional representatives," said a report by Workmen's Circle/Arbeter Ring published Wednesday.

The survey showed that 68 percent of respondents voted for President Obama and 32 percent for Mitt Romney, his Republican challenger, and that there were similar liberal-conservative splits on a range of issues, including the economy, abortion, gay rights, climate change and immigration.

However, a statistical analysis of the results showed that the predictive power of economic issues was the largest, according to Steven Cohen, a professor at New York University's Berman Jewish Policy Archive who analyzed the data with Samuel Abrams, a professor at Sarah Lawrence College.

"All of your predictions" about voting "could be done just by knowing economic justice alone," Cohen told JTA.

Among other findings, by a 43 percent to 31 percent margin, respondents agreed that "Poor people have hard lives because government benefits don’t go far enough to help them live decently," and by a 50 percent to 28 percent  margin, respondents wanted to preserve benefits under Medicare, the medical insurance program for those over 65 now facing Republican demands for cost reductions.

Cohen and Abrams ran a regression analysis on the data to determine the relationship between variables; the only other variable that came as close to views on the economy in predicting a voting outcome was views on climate change, Cohen said.

The analysis was drawn from research by YouGov, a company that targets respondents through market research.

Respondents self-identifying as Jewish numbered 2,067 and responded through email. The margin of error was 2 percentage points.

Workmen's Circle was established in 1900 as a Jewish labor rights group.

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