WASHINGTON (JTA) — President Obama’s job approval rating among Jewish voters remained at 60 percent, but his favorability ratings easily outdistanced leading Republicans, a poll showed.
The ratings for Obama, in a poll commissioned by the liberal pro-Israel group J Street, was consistent with recent polling. The numbers were significantly below the approval in the low 80s that Obama had earned among Jews just after he was elected in November 2008, but also about 14 percent higher than general approval ratings.
J Street’s poll showed Jewish voters virtually split on his handling of the economy, with 51 percent approving and 49 percent disapproving, and also showed them disapproving of his handling of the Arab-Israeli conflict, 56-44 percent.
Judged against the two frontrunners for the GOP nomination, Obama beat Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, 63-24 percent, and U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), 67-19 percent. Obama had scored 78 percent among Jewish voters against Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in 2008; J Street noted in an analysis that the recent poll numbers were close to the 62-32 Obama vs. McCain split in its July 2008 poll.
The poll also assessed favorability, or a respondent’s warmth toward a figure, as opposed to job approval. Obama scored 56 percent in favorability ratings, while Romney scored 16, Bachmann 12, former President George W. Bush 16, the Tea Party movement 12 and conservative talk-show host Glenn Beck 10. The Democratic Party scored 49 percent and the Republican Party had 18.
The poll also showed strong support for J Street participation in mainstream Jewish community events.
Asked "Do you think Jewish community organizations such as local Jewish Federations and JCCs should allow or not allow J Street to participate in events sponsored by Jewish community organizations?," 77 percent said J Street should be allowed.
The results were similar even among Jews who belong to synagogues, who tend to tack more conservative: 74 percent said J Street should be allowed to participate.
A number of synagogues and Jewish community centers have banned J Street events after protests from right-wing groups who describe J Street as anti-Israel for its policy of advocating U.S. pressure on Israel to end settlement building and for its criticisms of Israel during recent conflicts with the Palestinians.
The poll of 800 respondents was conducted by GBA Strategies through a web panel from July 7 to 12. The margin of error was 3.5 percentage points.