Jewish Democrats Will Back Clinton, Republicans Will Defect, Survey Says

Most Jewish Republicans are poised to defect to independent presidential candidate Ross Perot, while most Jewish Democrats are solidly behind Democrat Bill Clinton, according to a new study commissioned by the National Jewish Democratic Council.

The survey also found Jewish Democrats more concerned with abortion rights than Democrats overall and opposed in greater numbers to the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

The study determined that Jewish Democrats are well educated, relatively affluent, largely liberal and deeply concerned about jobs and the economy. It also indicated they vote in disproportionately high numbers. While Jews represent 2.4 percent of the nation’s overall population, they accounted for 6 percent of the Democratic voters surveyed in exit polls.

The report represents the first systematic profile of Jewish voters in this election cycle. It measured voting preferences in the presidential contest and in key Senate races, and analyzed priorities and demographics.

Voter Research and Surveys, which conducted the survey, based its data on primary exit polling done more than a month ago. But the study’s sponsors claim the data are still meaningful despite the fluidity of the unusual three-way presidential race.

“It is not a final statement,” said Steve Gutow, executive director of the NJDC. “But it is a reasonable snapshot of differences between Jewish voters and others.”

Gutow said the results help fill the big gaps in information on Jewish participation in the electoral process, though he concedes there were few surprises.

Indeed, “it codifies what we knew intuitively,” he said.

The survey underscores President Bush’s “stunning unpopularity” in the Jewish community, said Gutow. At the same time it shows the comfort of American Jews with the Democratic Party and its top candidate, Bill Clinton, he said.

MOST SUPPORT SINCE HUMPHREY

“Clinton is likely to get the highest percentage of any Jewish vote since Hubert Humphrey” in 1968, said Stuart Eizenstat, former domestic policy adviser to the Carter administration and vice chair of the NJDC.

The survey found that in California, 63 percent of Republican Jewish voters would vote for Perot, compared to 46 percent of all Republicans.

In New Jersey, Jewish GOP defectors for Perot numbered 42 percent, 8 percentage points above the general GOP population. Surprisingly, 22 percent of Jewish New Jersey Republicans said they would vote for Clinton, a big leap from the 3 percent of overall Republicans surveyed.

Meanwhile, among California’s Jewish Democrats, 65 percent said they would support Clinton, fully 20 percentage points above the state’s Democrats overall. Twenty-seven percent said they would defect to Perot, well below the 38 percent by Democrats as a whole.

The same pattern held true in New Jersey.

In Senate races, California’s Jewish voters threw considerably more support than other Democrats to former San Francisco Mayor Dianne Feinstein and U.S. Rep. Barbara Boxer, both Jewish Democrats.

In Pennsylvania, they gave more support than other Democrats to Lynn Yeakel, challenger to Sen. Arlen Specter, a veteran Jewish Republican.

In the Illinois Senate primary, Jews gave slightly less support than did other Democrats to Carol Moseley Braun, who defeated Republican Sen. Alan Dixon.

New York Jewish Democratic voters, asked whom they would support if that state’s Senate primary were held that day, favored attorney General Robert Abrams more heavily than other Democrats did, 47 percent to 31 percent. Their support for former U.S. Rep. Geraldine Ferraro was weaker than overall support, 23 percent to 32 percent, while it was even, at 16 percent, for New York City Comptroller Elizabeth Holtzman.

Jewish Democratic primary voters surveyed said their top concerns were the economy and jobs, health care and education. They were not surveyed about foreign policy.

They also indicated they are far more in favor of abortion rights than other Democrats, with a minimum of a 20-point spread in the states measured.

Ninety-five percent of Jewish Democrats believe Roe vs. Wade, the 1973 ruling that made abortion a constitutional right, should be maintained, compared to 65 percent of all Democrats surveyed.

Jews made up 6 percent of the overall Democratic primary vote, with 25 percent of those Jews identifying themselves as independents.

More than half, 57 percent, described themselves as liberal.

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