May 2, 2012
Finally more clarity: 27%-29% of Jews tilt Republican
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:
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):
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):
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.
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:
* AJC annual surveys of Jewish opinion