J Street poll: Obama's Jewish support tops Republicans

But majority of US Jews critical of US president's Arab-Israeli policy; separate poll shows Muslims blame West for domestic problems.

July 21, 2011 22:03
2 minute read.
US President Obama at 2008 AIPAC conference

US President Barack Obama at AIPAC 311 (R). (photo credit: Jason Reed / Reuters)


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WASHINGTON – US President Barack Obama handily defeats his current Republican presidential opponents among Jewish voters, according to a poll put out by J Street Thursday.

At the same time, the majority of American Jews disapproves of his handling of the Arab-Israeli conflict, the poll found.

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Obama currently enjoys 63 percent of the American Jewish vote, compared to 24% for Mitt Romney and 67% when facing-off against Michele Bachmann, who received 19% support, according to the poll.

Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, and Bachmann, a Minnesota Congresswoman, are leading polls of announced contenders for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.

Polling in 2008 showed Obama with a similar lead over his Republican competitor John McCain, though he ended up garnering 78% of the Jewish vote, according to exit polls.

The J Street poll also showed much higher Jewish approval ratings for Obama than most other American constituencies, finding that 60% approve of the way he is handling his job. An aggregate of other polls shows that his national-approval ratings are in the mid-40s.

However, Jewish opinion on his performance on the Middle East was much more negative. Indeed, 56% said they disapproved of the way he is handling the Arab- Israeli conflict, with 44% approving.

Still, Obama received a higher favorability rating – 56 – than Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu – 50 – and any of the Republican personalities or groups surveyed. The Tea Party (12) and Glenn Beck (10) did particularly poorly, even though the latter is due to stage a massive rally in Israel next month.

Some 800 American-Jews of voting age were surveyed in the poll, which was administered by e-mail after Jews were culled from a national web-based panel over the second week of July. The margin of error was 3.5%.

The poll was conducted by Jim Gerstein, a member of J Street’s advisory council and a frequent pollster for Democrats and progressive causes.

Another poll released by the Pew Research Center Thursday explored views of the West and Muslims toward one another.

It found that the two groups regard one another with distrust and negative stereotypes, with Muslims holding more negative views of Americans and Europeans than visaversa.

However, both groups also share a concern over Islamic extremism in some cases, with 78% of Palestinians expressing concern, slightly more than the 77% of Israelis who do. Lebanon (73%) and Egypt (64%) also expressed significant concern over the issue.

At the same time, while Muslims still blame US and Western policies (53%) more than anything else for a lack of prosperity in Muslim countries, government corruption (49%) and lack of democracy (42%) are now nearly as high.

Muslims also continue to hold negative attitudes towards Jews, with less than 5% of Palestinians, Lebanese, Egyptians, Jordanians and Turks viewing them positively. In contrast, 82% of Americans view Jews positively, while only 57% view Muslims positively.

The poll, part of a 23-nation survey, was conducted on 1,000 people in America and the Arab world, and slightly fewer in Israel. The margin of error was 4% for the former and 5% for Israel.

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