Barack Obama is underperforming among Jewish voters compared to previous Democratic candidates, according to a new survey.
Obama leads 57 percent to 30 percent among those polled in the American Jewish Committee’s 2008 Annual Survey of American Jewish Opinion, with 13 percent undecided. But he significantly trails the Jewish tallies recorded by recent Democratic presidential candidates.
By contrast, John Kerry received 76 percent of the Jewish vote four years ago against George W. Bush, and in the three prior presidential elections, Democrats won 78 to 80 percent of Jewish votes. The 2004 AJC survey, taken three weeks earlier in that campaign than this year, found Kerry leading 69 percent to 24 percent.
The poll by survey research organization Synovate of 914 self-identifying Jewish respondents, selected from Synovate’s consumer mail panel, was conducted by telephone Sept. 8-21. The margin of error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.
McCain enjoyed a 78 percent to 13 percent lead among Orthodox Jews, but Obama won easily among all other Jewish groups: Conservatives, 59 percent to 26 percent; Reform, 62 percent to 27 percent; and those calling themselves “just Jewish,” 61percent to 26 percent.
McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin as his vice-presidential running mate was unpopular in the Jewish community, according to the survey. Just 37 percent approved, with 54 percent disapproving of the selection. By contrast, Obama’s choice of Joe Biden garnered 73 percent approval and 15 percent disapproval.
The economy was seen as the most important issue. Fifty-four percent of respondents said that was the one issue they would “most like the candidates to discuss,” with 11 percent answering health care, 6 percent the war in Iraq and just 3 percent answering Israel.