Hillary Clinton talks to staff members, including aide Huma Abedin (left), on her campaign plane before takeoff from White Plains, New York.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
A landslide majority of Florida’s Jews voted for Hillary Clinton, largely reflecting the same political beliefs as Jews across the rest of the country, an election night poll revealed on Wednesday. Jewish voters in the key swing state, who comprise 5% of the voter population, chose Clinton by a 40-point margin, according to a survey conducted by GBA Strategies and released by J Street.
With 68% of Jews voting Clinton and 28% voting Trump, the results were comparable to those four years ago, when 68% voted for President Barack Obama against 31% for Mitt Romney.
J Street released two polls, one for Jewish voters in Florida and one for Jewish voters nationwide. The latter found that in keeping with historical trends, Jewish voters are firmly on the progressive side of the national divide with a 70% to 25% Democrat-to-Republican margin. Five percent opted for independent candidates.
In a divisive election campaign where the phrase “the better of two evils” was often repeated, it’s notable that Jewish voters said their vote was in favor of Clinton rather than a default vote against Trump, despite their strong opposition to the latter.
“This remains a very divided country,” said J Street founder and president Jeremy Ben- Ami, emphasizing that Jewish voters remain a bedrock constituency with “overwhelming disdain for Donald Trump and his policies.”
He made clear in a conference call with journalists that while the organization did not endorse either candidate, it made it unequivocally clear that “in our opinion, Trump was not fit to be president. Nothing has changed our view on that matter.”
The economy, ISIS and terrorism and health care were the key issues driving the national Jewish vote, while Israel and Iran were toward the bottom of the list for most. Only 9% selected Israel as one of their top two issues, and 2% cited Iran. Nevertheless they hold firm positions on these hot-button issues, with 77% strongly supporting a two-state solution and 69% in favor of a major speech by President Barack Obama outlining his vision for a peace agreement before he leaves office. Meanwhile 63% support the agreement over Iran’s nuclear program reached by the US, Iran and world powers last year.
“America is obviously very divided,” said Jim Gerstein, a Jewish pollster and founding partner at GBA Strategies. “These elections underscored that in a powerful way US Jews are as clearly as ever in the progressive camp.”
Noting that a higher proportion of Jews voted for Clinton more than any other religious group, as well as those with no religion, he said this position is reflected in their attitudes toward refugees, support for the Iran agreement and US involvement in the peace process. “Florida is no different,” stressed Gerstein, who has conducted annual polls of Jewish voters since 2008.
GBA Strategies conducted the two surveys on November 8. The national survey was administered over the Internet by research company Mountain West Research Center, with the participation of 731 self-identified Jewish voters in the 2016 election. The margin of error is +/- 3.6%. The Florida survey of 500 self-identified Jewish voters has a margin of error of +/- 4.4% and was conducted by landlines and cellphones, calling a random sample of registered voters with distinctive Jewish names.