American Jews Favor Dukakis by a 4-1 Margin, Poll Finds
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American Jews Favor Dukakis by a 4-1 Margin, Poll Finds

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American Jews favor Michael Dukakis for president over George Bush by a margin as high as 4-1, according to the results of a nationwide poll released Wednesday.

Of 647 Jews of voting age contacted by telephone in seven urban centers around the country, 60,6 percent said they would vote for Dukakis, 15,5 percent said they would vote for Bush and 22,5 percent were undecided.

The poll was conducted between Oct. 10 and 13. The results are subject to an error of plus or minus 4 percent.

While the Republican Party seems to have failed to broaden its base among Jews, and has lost as much as 50 percent of its Jewish support since the last election, the undecided voters will determine how large the fall-off will be.

If those undecided voters who favored President Reagan in 1984 were to switch to Dukakis in the same proportion as those Reagan-supporters indicating a preference have already done, Dukakis would win 76 percent of the Jewish vote, beating Bush in the Jewish community by a 3-1 margin.

Despite intense efforts of the Republican campaign to link Dukakis with the pro-Palestinian sentiments of Jesse Jackson, only 18 percent of Jewish voters said Jackson’s presence in the campaign affected their choice “a great deal.”

Of all those surveyed, 27 percent said they saw Jackson’s presence in the campaign as a positive factor, 41 percent viewed it negatively and 30 percent said it made no difference.


“Jews are becoming — if they haven’t become already — a one-party community,” said William Helmreich, professor of sociology and Judaie studies at the City College of New York and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.

Helmreich directed the poll, which was commissioned by three Jewish weekly newspapers and conducted by Byron Research and Consulting of Great Neck, N.Y.

The newspapers commissioning the poll were the Long Island Jewish World, the Palm Beach (Fla.) Jewish World and the Washington Jewish Week.

According to Helmreich, who announced the survey results Wednesday afternoon at a news conference here, subjects were chosen on the basis of distinctive and “semi-distinctive” Jewish names drawn from the telephone directories of seven metropolitan areas.

The areas, where 75 to 80 percent of the country’s Jewish population lives, were New York and northern New Jersey; Miami and southern Florida; Los Angeles and Long Beach, Calif; Philadelphia, Trenton, N.J. and Wilmington, Del; Chicago; Boston; and Washington-Baltimore.

Although Jews constitute only 4 percent of the total electorate, said Helmreich, in a tight race their strong support for Dukakis could help him win the key states in which they are concentrated.

Jews are also more likely to turn out at the polls than the general population. The survey found that 82 percent of the sample was registered and planned to vote, compared to 53 percent among all Americans.


Helmreich said the survey did not reveal why Jewish voters are giving less support to Bush than they did to Reagan in 1984, when a third backed the Republican incumbent over Walter Mondale.

But respondents believed Dukakis to be more pro-Israel than Bush by a better than 2-1 margin, despite a perception that President Reagan has been the American president most favorable to Israel.

And a surprising result emerged when subjects were asked to rank issues of interest to Jews: only 33.5 percent considered “support for Israel” the highest priority, compared to the 35.2 percent who favored “supporting programs opposing discrimination against minorities, women and the poor.”

According to Helmreich, the survey results hold a silver lining for the Republican Party. Most significantly, younger Jews were more likely to vote for a Republican candidate than older Jews. Among Jews 18 to 25 years old, 49 percent said they were registered Democrats, and 20 percent Republicans. Among all respondents, 70 percent were registered Democrats, and only 12 percent Republicans.

Those results are “very significant,” said Helmreich, “Younger voters become older voters, and have children.”

Bush also did almost twice as well among Orthodox Jews as he did among all those polled. But Dukakis was still favored. Among the 8.7 percent of the sample identifying themselves as Orthodox, 30 percent gave their vote to Bush and 40 percent to Dukakis. The reminder were undecided.

Helmreich said he did not believe the second presidential debate, which took place just after polling was completed, would have a significant effect on Jewish voters.

But he said the fact that Dukakis’ wife, Kitty, is Jewish may be a more significant factor than the poll seems to suggest. Although more than 81 percent of the respondents said Kitty Dukakis did not affect their choice in the campaign, 39 percent said that her presence was a “positive factor.”

Heimreich said the poll correlated well with other polls taken on questions concerning religious affiliation, synagogue membership and education.

He also said the results appeared compatible with a poll taken by the American Jewish Committee in April and May, before the candidates were nominated. It showed Jews favoring Democrats over Republicans by 58 to 16 percent.

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