President Barack Obama would receive 61 percent of the Jewish vote compared with just 28 percent for former Gov. Mitt Romney if the election was held now.
Most religiously observant Jews (weekly synagogue-goers) said they plan to re-elect Obama. Two-thirds of Jewish women plan to do the same, compared to 55 percent of Jewish men.
Those were the findings of the latest national American Jewish Committee poll, which the group commissions annually. The survey also found that 80 percent of American Jews listed the economy as the most important issue in this election, compared to 57 percent who cited health care, 26 percent who said national security and just 22 percent who said U.S.-Israel relations. Although Romney, a former businessman and Massachusetts governor, has been campaigning on his economic prowess, 62 percent of Jews who cited the economy as their top issue favored Obama to Romney 62 percent to 28 percent.
Obama's figure is an improvement over a previous AJC survey in September, when Obama scored 50 percent and Romney 32 percent (with other viable candidates still in the race).
Obama came out ahead in the latest poll among Jews who cited health care as their top concern, with 72 percent saying they would vote for the president compared to 19 percent who favored Romney.
In addition, 58 percent of Jews approved of the way Obama is handling U.S.-Israel relations, compared to 40 percent who disapproved. On the other hand, Romney nudged out Obama (45 percent to 42 percent) among Jews who cited national security concerns as their top priority.
Interestingly, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu received a resounding 70 percent approval rating when it comes to his handling of U.S.-Israel relations, compared with just 28 percent who disapproved. And although 55 percent of Jews believe the prospect for Arab-Israeli peace have stayed the same, 37 percent said they have decreased in the last year.
“Our survey confirms a politically active and yet diverse American Jewish community that has strong views on the pressing issues confronting the Unites States,” said David Harris, the AJC’s executive director.
The survey found that Iran’s quest for a nuclear weapon is of concern to 89 percent of Jews questioned, and that 64 percent would support U.S. military action should diplomacy and sanctions fail — and 75 percent would support Israeli military action. Fully 60 percent believed the Democratic Party is more likely to make the right decision in dealing with Iran’s nuclear program.
The survey found also that 71 percent of respondents said that caring about Israel is a very important part of being a Jew, but 59 percent said they have never gone, 48 percent of them because they never had the opportunity, 32 percent said it is too expensive, 13 percent said they were afraid to go and 31 percent said they had no interest in going.
The survey of 1,074 American Jews was conducted by Knowledge Networks from March 14-27 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.8 percent. In last year's poll, 45 percent of Jews polled said they approved of the president's overall job performance.