Survey: Jewish voters see economy as top concern

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WASHINGTON (JTA) — Most registered Jewish voters see the economy as the most important issue in the 2012 election, according to a new survey.

Some 51 percent of Jewish voters said the economy would be most important to their vote for the next president. Fifteen percent cited the gap between rich and the poor, 10 percent said health care and 7 percent saw the federal deficit as being important to their vote, according to the survey released Tuesday at a National Press Club briefing.

The poll of 1,004 American Jews was conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute and was funded by the Nathan Cummings Foundation, which supports liberal Jewish causes. The political questions included the responses from only self-identified registered voters.

The  survey found that 62 percent of Jewish voters wanted President Obama to be reelected, while 30 percent said they would prefer a Republican and the remainder were undecided.

Mitt Romney, at 58 percent, had the greatest support among Jews who would vote Republican. Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul trail with 15 percent, 13 percent and 12 percent, respectively. Seven percent of Jews who voted for Obama in 2008 said they would prefer a Republican candidate in 2012.

President Obama is believed to have won as much as 78 percent of the Jewish vote in the 2008 elections.

The survey looked at how Jewish values, experiences and identity are shaping political beliefs and behavior, as well as influencing social action in the Jewish community.

The survey also found 84 percent of Jews saying that pursuing justice and 80 percent saying that caring for the widow and orphan are somewhat or very important values that inform their political beliefs and activities.

The survey presented a list of eight public figures and asked respondents to rate how well the individuals represented Jewish values. The list included Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, comedian Jon Stewart and U.S. Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.).

Netanyahu topped the list, with 73 percent saying he represented Jewish values well or very well. Comic Sarah Silverman was at the bottom, with 37 percent saying she represented Jewish values well or very well, trailing just behind Cantor at 38 percent.

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