WASHINGTON (Nov. 7)
While President Reagan won a landslide reelection victory Tuesday, most Jews appear to have voted for his opponent, former Vice President Walter Mondale.
Two major exit polls, conducted by television networks, gave Mondale nearly 70 percent of the Jewish vote. ABC said the Jewish vote was 69 to 31 in favor of Mondale and CBS said its poll showed Jews voted for Mondale by a 67 to 32 majority.
This was disputed by the National Jewish Coalition for Reagan-Bush. Bruce Soll, the Coalition’s executive director, said its figures showed 44-46 percent of Jews voted for Reagan which he called “a landslide” in the Jewish community for the Republican President.
Soll argued that the television exit polls included only about 200 Jews out of 2,000 persons interviewed. He said the Jewish Coalition interviewed persons in Jewish areas of California, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Forida. He said Jews supported Reagan because his position on Israel, the economy and family values were “in sync” with the Jewish community.
FINDINGS OF AJCONGRESS EXIT POLL
However, preliminary returns from a nationwide American Jewish Congress exit survey of Jewish voters Tuesday showed at least a 70-30 split in favor of Walter Mondale.
The survey was conducted in regional areas across the country by AJCongress representatives who questioned Jewish voters as they left the polls. The early returns showed that Mondale’s support among Jewish voters was about 20 percent higher than Jimmy Carter’s in 1980.
AJCongress analysts say that part of the difference between Mondale and Carter support is accounted for by the return to the Democratic Party of Jews who voted for John Anderson four years ago.
Anderson, who ran as an independent in 1980, received about 10 percent of the Jewish vote. The Coalition for Reagan-Bush, the Jewish organization which supported Republican candidates in 1980, estimated that 45 percent of the Jewish voters helped elect Reagan and 45 percent voted for President Carter.
The analysis of the early AJCongress survey returns showed the following:
* Concern for Israel remains strong among Jewish voters, but Israel did not play a significant role in Jewish voting patterns this year because both Reagan and Mondale were perceived as being sympathetic to Israel.
* Jesse Jackson’s statements and behavior in the campaign and Reagan’s support for closer ties between religion and government worried many Jewish voters. Of those who supported Reagan, one-half were influenced by Jackson’s role and of those who supported Mondale, three-fourths were affected by concern over Reagan’s church/state policies.
* Along with church/state concerns, social justice issues — such as the needs of the poor and aged — continue to be a key factor in explaining the Jewish vote.
On the basis of the first 1,500 survey returns, AJCongress analysts concluded that while Jewish voters may not be as liberal as they were 20 or 30 years ago, their economic status continues to play for less of a role than it does for other sectors of the voting population. As a result, the Jewish community continues to vote disproportionately liberal.
A final analysis, based on the full survey returns covering around 3,000 Jewish voters, will be available in several weeks.
Israel was not an issue in this year’s Presidential campaign since both Reagan and Mondale are considered supporters of the Jewish State. Reagan did stress the close alliance with Israel achieved during his Administration and statements to this effect from Premier Shimon Peres and Deputy Premier and Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir, when Shamir was Premier, were stressed to the Jewish community.
Mondale accused Reagan of abandoning the Camp David process for his Mideast initiative and of arming Israel’s Arab enemies. The Democratic candidate also promised to move the United States Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem which Reagan opposes.
However, the particular issues that seemed to be of most concern in the Jewish community were Jackson’s position in the Mondale campaign and Reagan’s espousal of views that seemed to threaten the separation of church and state. Many Jews were undecided how to vote until the last minute.
The Republicans, including Reagan and Vice President George Bush, continuously stressed to Jews that the Democratic national convention had failed to pass a resolution condemning anti-Semitism and attacked Mondale’s support by Jackson who many Jews consider not only anti-Israel but anti-Semitic.
Mondale accused Reagan of “moral McCarthyism” by seeking to brand opponents of prayer in the schools as anti-religious. Mondale and his Vice Presidential running mate, Rep. Geraldine Ferraro, also attacked the Republicans for adopting the agenda of the Religious Right, which, they said, would threaten the separation of church and state.
CHURCH-STATE ISSUE SUPERSEDED JACKSON ISSUE
Hyman Bookbinder, the American Jewish Committee’s representative in Washington, said that while the Jackson issue had concerned many Jews, it seemed to fade in the past two months as fear grew about what was seen as a threat to the separation of church and state. He said that in speaking to Jewish groups across the country, he found the religious issue to be the one that worried them the most.
David Brody, the Washington representative of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, said that the church-state issue is what may have convinced many Jews to vote for Mondale. In addition, he noted that Mondale has long been close to the Jewish community and “Jews don’t forget their friends.”
Bookbinder said that, in the last two weeks of the campaign, Republicans had sought to reassure the Jewish community that the separation of church and state would not be breached. He urged the Reagan Administration, now that it has been reelected, to demonstrate to Jews that this concern was “unwarranted.”