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Poll shows strong Jewish support for labor, higher taxes

JTA

May 31, 2012 | 10:29 am

A poll showed American Jews strongly favor tax increases for the wealthy and tend to back labor in disputes with management.

The poll, released Thursday by the Workmen’s Circle, showed 65 percent of respondents favored raising taxes on those who earn more than $200,000 a year and that 61 percent tend to side with the union when they hear of a strike against a large company.

A similar number, 62 percent, perceived a “major threat” from the “power of financial institutions and banks.”

The Workmen’s Circle, in commissioning the poll, sought to assess Jewish views on labor, taxes and jobs because such questions have been absent in recent years from a number of other high-profile polls of Jewish Americans.

The Jewish labor rights group, established in 1900, is seeking to re-assume a higher profile in the Jewish community.

“An organization who is going to connect to them [American Jews] on their social and economic values is needed and relevant,” Ann Toback, the group’s executive director, told JTA.

The poll, conducted from April 19 to May 3, otherwise tracks results found in recent Jewish polls: President Obama would draw 59 percent of the Jewish vote, all-but-certain Republican candidate Mitt Romney would garner 27 percent and undecideds are at 14 percent. The numbers don’t differ statistically from a poll last month by the American Jewish Committee in which Obama and Romney scored 61 percent and 28 percent, respectively.

Steven M. Cohen, the veteran pollster who worked with the polling firm IPSOS on the Workmen’s Circle survey, said taxes and labor-management relations were the main determinant—as opposed to foreign or social policy—in what attracted a voter to a party.

“I did not expect to see the strong results we saw in economic justice,” he said, “and I did not expect to see the salience of economic justice in determining the presidential vote.”

Other results were similar to those in recent polls: A substantial majority, 68 percent, favor gay marriage, and a vast majority, 89 percent, favor making abortion legal in most cases.

On foreign policy questions, 58 percent said they agree that the current Israeli government wants peace, while 71 percent said the Palestinian Authority does not want peace and 78 percent agreed that the Palestinians wanted Israel’s destruction. Asked whether Israel should freeze settlement expansion, 40 percent agreed, 22 percent disagreed and 39 percent said they were not sure.

The poll of 1,000 American Jews was conducted through the Internet. Respondents were culled from the IPSOS database of more than 1 million Americans who have expressed interest in surveys. The margin of error was 4 percentage points.

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