Poll: Jews biggest backers of Obama, but support slipping


WASHINGTON (JTA) — Sixty-four percent of American Jews approve of the job President Obama is doing, significantly higher than both the national average and the ratings the president received from the other religious groups surveyed, according to a new Gallup poll.

Gallup also found that while Obama’s job approval rating among Jews is down from 83 percent at the beginning of the year, he experienced the same percent drop among the general population.

According to an analysis from the polling company, the equal rates of decline indicate that Obama’s policies on Israel and the Middle East have not had a “disproportionately negative (or positive) impact on his image” among American Jews, and that Republican attacks on his handling of Israel-related issue have not resonated in the Jewish community.

The poll’s release came just a few days after an American Jewish Committee survey found that American Jews approved of the president’s handling of U.S.-Israel relations by a 54-32 percent margin.

The Gallup Poll of 379 Jews, conducted throughout the month of September, has a margin of error of plus or minus 6 percent.

Obama’s 64 percent approval rating among Jews is 12 points higher than the 52 percent rating he received from all U.S. adults in September, and much higher than three other religious groups surveyed. Obama received 54 percent approval from Catholics, 47 percent from Protestants and 32 percent from Mormons. Muslims were not included because the sample size was too small.

Jewish Democrats cited the poll as proof that the president is still extremely popular among Jews, as he was in the 2008 election.

The numbers "give the lie to the myth that the president’s support in the Jewish community is waning," said the president of the National Jewish Democratic Council, David Harris, and demonstrate that "there is no loss of support for this president due to his commitment to pursuing peace and security" for Israel.

The poll does not explain the reasons for the 19 percent of Jews who no longer approve of Obama’s performance. Some observers noted that even though Jewish conservatives have been vocal in their criticisms, the drop also could be attributable to those who believe the president has not been liberal enough or moved quickly enough on the Israeli-Palestinian issue.

But Harris said the fact that Obama’s decline in Jewish support is similar to his drop among all Americans shows that "American Jews are just that — Americans" and mirror the feelings of the country as a whole.

The executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, Matt Brooks, said Jewish Democrats should be worried because Obama is "hemorrhaging support across the board."

"I don’t think it’s a reason to celebrate” that his rate of decline among Jews is the same as in the general population, Brooks said.

"Usually Jews are the last to go" in supporting a Democratic president, he said, but "they’re losing Jews as fast as they’re losing everybody else."

According to the poll, 66 percent of Jews identify as Democrats, compared to 27 percent who say they are Republican.

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