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Finally more clarity: 27%-29% of Jews tilt Republican‎

by Shmuel Rosner

May 2, 2012 | 10:35 am

There’s nothing earth shattering about the new AJC survey of American Jewish ‎opinion. Support for Obama among American Jews is slightly higher today than it was ‎half a year ago, but is still not very high. As Ron Kampeas reported: “The AJC’s new ‎findings are similar to those of the Public Religion Research Institute in March. That ‎poll showed Obama scoring 62 percent of the Jewish vote, as opposed to 30 percent ‎for a GOP candidate”. ‎

Romney, according the new AJC survey, could get as much as 33% of the Jewish vote ‎‎(our Israel Factor panel predicted 34% for Romney). That’s nice compared to ‎Republican performances in previous election cycles, but not the meltdown of Jewish ‎support for Obama that some Republican operatives predicted about a year ago. Forty ‎percent of Jewish Americans do not approve of Obama’s handling of US-Israel ‎relations. This is significant improvement compared to the September 2011 survey in ‎which 53% registered in the “disapprove” column.  ‎

The AJC survey gives one an opportunity to also revisit our ongoing attempt to ‎understand party identification trends among Jewish voters. In January and February I ‎posted twice about this topic (Are Jews Trending Republican? and Do we now have ‎proof that Jews are trending Republican?), and in the second post, devoted mostly to ‎PEW surveys I made this comment:‎

What I argued in my previous post, based on data from other polls, is that Jews ‎seem to trend Independent more than Republican. This merits another look ‎‎(which I hope to do soon), as the PEW people insist that “Jews are the only ‎religious group analyzed in which the percentage who identify themselves as ‎Republican (as opposed to leaning toward the GOP) has risen significantly”. ‎What they say is the opposite of what other surveys demonstrated and should be ‎carefully examined as it might change our outlook on Jewish political trends.‎

The AJC survey gives me the first such opportunity to have “another look” at party ‎trends among Jews, as it poses two questions that are very relevant to this topic. The ‎first question is the one the AJC people included in previous polls: “In politics ‎TODAY, do you consider yourself a Republican, a Democrat, or an Independent?” ‎The second one is new: “[IF INDEPENDENT/OTHER] As of TODAY, do you think ‎of yourself as closer to the Republican Party/Democratic Party?” ‎

The first question is identical to the one that we used in our January analysis, and ‎enables as to update our Jewish party identification graph (the detailed table on which ‎the graph is based is at the end of this post):‎

 

 

Photo

 

 

What do we learn from this update? Unfortunately it is adding to the confusion rather ‎than clarifying the trend. In our previous posts, we showed that there’s a difference ‎between AJC surveys (in the graph above - showing trending towards Independent ‎positions), and the trend recorded by PEW surveys (in the graph below - showing ‎gradual trending towards the Republican Party):‎

 

 

Photo

 

 

Enter the new AJC survey, adding two layers of confusion to the mix:‎

‎1. According to the new survey, and contrary to the trend recorded in the last five ‎surveys, the number of Jewish Independents is going down, not up. ‎
‎2. But this doesn’t mean that the PEW survey got it right: according to the AJC ‎survey of 2012, the percentage of Jewish Democrats – not Republicans – is the one ‎that’s really rising (the number of Jewish Republicans is going slightly up).‎

However, we might still be able to learn something new from the AJC survey - ‎because of the decision to add a question this year that wasn’t there last year. As I ‎mentioned earlier, in the 2012 survey Independents were asked a follow up question ‎about their “closeness” to the two parties. And here’s what we can learn from this ‎question:‎

Question/Party

Democratic

Republican

Independent

Party identification

52%

19%

26%

Party leaning of ‎Independents

64%

34%

 

Total: Party identification + Party leaning

68%

27%

‎‎



What do we learn from this? That the AJC numbers are now much closer to the PEW numbers:‎

 

Democrats

Republicans

PEW 2011

65%

29%

AJC ‘12 (identification + leaning)

68%

27%



To conclude: The number of Republican-leaning Jewish voters is similar in the AJC and PEW surveys, ‎and is close to 30% (but not quite there). Is this a trend towards the Republican Party? According to ‎PEW surveys it is, but the AJC survey doesn’t yet confirm such a trend, given that the “leaning” ‎question of Independent voters was first presented this year. 


Year

GOP

Dem

Ind

Not Sure

2012*

19

52

26

2

2011 *

16

45

38

2

Fall 2010 *

17

48

34

1

2010 *

15

50

32

2

2009 *

16

53

30

1

2008 *

17

56

25

2

2005 *

16

54

29

1

2004 *

16

54

29

2

2002- 2004 **

16

50

34

 

2001-2002**

17

50

33

 

2000 *

9

59

30

2

1996 ‎‎*

 

52

   

1991-2002 ***

 

51.7

   

1992-2001**

18

50

32

 

1981-90 ‎‎***

 

53.9

   

1972-80 ***

 

57.8

   

‎* AJC annual surveys of Jewish opinion
‎** Gallup‎
‎*** Jewish Distinctiveness in America, Tom W. Smith. T, 2005‎

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