‘US Jews’ approval of Obama falling steadily’

According to a poll by the American Jewish Committee (AJC), US Jewry is increasingly concerned over a number of White House policies.

October 13, 2010 02:49
2 minute read.
Obama  gestures at White House news conference

Obama hand in air, flag in background 311. (photo credit: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

US President Barack Obama’s support among American Jews is eroding, according to a survey whose findings were released Tuesday.

According to a poll commissioned by the American Jewish Committee (AJC), US Jewry is increasingly concerned over a number of White House policies and its handing of relations with Israel in particular.

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About 49 percent of the Jewish participants in the poll said they approve of the White House’s handling of its ties with Israel, while 45% disapprove. In a survey conducted in March, the president had the backing of 55% on his policy toward Israel as opposed to 37% who disapproved. In AJC’s 2009 survey, 54% approved, and 32% disapproved.

Overall, Obama’s approval rates among American Jewry have dropped to 51%, from 57% in March. The president captured 78% of the Jewish vote in the presidential elections two years ago.

“I think that there’s growing anxiety about the general state of American and global affairs and it’s not unique to the Jewish community but it reflected in the Jewish community,” AJC Director David Harris said about the survey’s finding.

“A majority believes we are losing Afghanistan, that we’re losing Iraq, that we’ve lost Turkey as a friend. They are not optimistic of the peace talks or the economy. Only a bare majority approve of health care. Wherever you look there seems to be a glowing sense of gloom.”

In contrast, the view of how Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is handling US-Israel relations has improved. The new survey shows that 62% approve and 27% disapprove. In March, 57% approved and 30% disapproved.

The AJC survey was conducted by Synovate, a leading research organization, and was the first time the Jewish advocacy group conducted two polls in a single calendar year. The 800 respondents were interviewed by telephone between September 6 and October 10, 2010.

On Iran, American Jewish confidence in the president’s approach continues to dip. Only 43% approve of the Obama administration’s handling of the Iran nuclear issue, while 46% disapprove. In March, 47% approved and 42% disapproved. In 2009, 49% approved and 35% disapproved.

Uneasiness over Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons capacity is reflected in the growing numbers who doubt that the current strategy of sanctions and diplomacy will stop Iran.

Among US Jews, 72% believe there is “little” or “no” chance that a combination of diplomacy and sanctions can stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons, while 23% believe these approaches do have a chance. In March, 68% said there was “little” or “no” chance, and 32% said there is a chance they will succeed.

Despite dwindling support for the Obama administration a large majority of American Jews remain Democratic party supporters.

“I’m not sure that the feeling of pessimism translates to growing support of the Republican party,” Harris said.

Looking ahead to the midterm elections, 92% of American Jews surveyed say they plan to vote on November 2. Asked whether the country would be better off with a Congress controlled by the Republicans or Democrats, 57% favor a Democratic- controlled legislature, and 33% favor the Republicans. Survey respondents identified themselves as Democrat (48%), Republican (17%), and Independent (34%).

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