Sixty-four percent of American Jewish voters support incumbent President Barack Obama, a new Gallop poll reveals, in what may amount to a drop in Jewish support for the incumbent and a rise in Jewish support for the Republican Party.
Jewish Americans gave President Barack Obama a 60% job approval rating in June, down from 68% in May, but statistically unchanged from 64% in April. Thirty-two percent of U.S. Jews now disapprove of the job Obama is doing, similar to their 30% average thus far in 2011.
The Republican Jewish Coalition said the Gallup poll shows "Republicans are making significant inroads in the Jewish community and that Jewish support for President Obama is at a 24-year low for a Democratic presidential candidate."
Still, the poll shows a solid majority of American Jews continue to approve of Obama.
The poll shows President Obama winning just 64% of the Jewish vote, while support for Romney is at 29%, the highest level of Jewish support for a Republican presidential candidate in 24 years.
The Republican Jewish Coalition noted that the Gallup poll also illustrates a significant decrease in Jewish support for Obama between 2008 and 2012. According to Gallup: Among Jews, Obama's current 64% to 29% advantage compares with a 74% to 23% advantage before the election in 2008. "Thus, he is running 10 points lower among Jewish registered voters than in 2008, which is five points worse than his decline among all registered voters compared with 2008," the RJC said.
RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks said, "This poll is another sign of the erosion of support for Obama among Jewish voters. If the president wins just 64% of the Jewish vote, it would be a disaster for him and his party. Jewish voters are increasingly disillusioned with the president and that's why Mitt Romney is making real inroads in the Jewish community this year."
Jewish support for Democratic presidential candidates has exceeded 64% since 1988; Michael Dukakis took just 64% of the Jewish vote when he was soundly defeated by George H.W. Bush. In 1992, Bill Clinton won 80% of the Jewish vote. In 1996, he was re-elected with 78% of the Jewish vote. Al Gore won 79% of the vote in 2000 and John Kerry took 76% in 2004. President Obama won 78% of the Jewish vote in 2008.
President Obama delivered a major speech at the State Department on May 19 in which he articulated his support for a settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based on a return to Israel's 1967 borders. His remarks provoked a highly negative reaction from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as from many high-profile supporters of Israel in government, politics, and media.
Gallup cannot say whether the speech had an immediate impact on the views of Jewish Americans toward the president nationally, as sample sizes for this group in Gallup Daily tracking are too small to isolate short time periods. However, aggregated Gallup Daily tracking interviews for the month-and-a-half periods prior to and following the speech show no significant nor sustained shift in Jewish Americans' views toward Obama. Sixty-five percent approved of him for the period April 1 to May 18, and 62% approved from May 19 to June 30. Across the two time periods, approval was also essentially flat among all U.S. adults.
Jews who regularly attend synagogue are less supportive of Obama than those who attend less frequently or who are non-practicing — reflecting the generally more conservative views of the former group. However, the degree to which each group supports Obama also did not change during the periods prior to and following the May 19 speech.
Gallop reports that since tracking the 2012 presidential vote preferences in April, it has interviewed over 500 each of Jewish and Mormon registered voters. Among Mormon voters, 84% said they will vote for Republican candidate Mitt Romney, a Mormon and only 13% said they would vote for Obama. Among Jews, 29% said they would vote for Romney. The poll has a +/-5% error margin.
Historically, U.S. Jews and Mormons have been strongly politically aligned with the Democratic and Republican parties respectively, so the findings of this survey are completely in line with overall trends among the two groups. In a Gallup Daily tracking poll from January 2011 through May 2012, 70% of Mormons identified as or leaning Republican and only 19% identifying or leaning Democratic. In contrast, 64% of Jews affiliate with the Democratic Party and only 27% with the Republican Party.
Although only about 2% of Americans identify their faith as Mormon, or the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the Jewish population is about the same size, these two groups represent the next-largest faith groups in the U.S. after Protestants (which includes anyone who identifies simply as Christian) and Catholics.
Gallup reports that overall, U.S. registered voters are evenly divided in their expected voting preferences, with 46% supporting Obama and 46% supporting Romney.
Although Romney's current advantage with Mormons is higher than that of Obama's among Jews, it is possible that the latter are more likely to go out and vote. According to Gallup Daily tracking since mid-April, 83% of Jewish voters say they will definitely cast a ballot, in comparison to only 77% of Mormon voters. The national average among all registered voters is 78%.