Poll: McCain more popular among religious than secular Jews

"If nothing else, this shows that observant Jews are the swing voters of the Jewish community," says Orthodox congregations director.

McCain 224 88 AP (photo credit: AP)
McCain 224 88 AP
(photo credit: AP)
Religious Jews prefer Republican presidential candidate John McCain much more than non-religious Jews, splitting their vote evenly between him and Democratic rival Barack Obama, according to Gallup poll findings published Tuesday. Jews who don't consider religion to be "an important part of their daily life" back Obama 68 percent to 26%, the poll found. But those who do consider it important back McCain in equal numbers, with 45% going to each candidate. Only 39% of Jews report that religion is important in their daily lives, according to Gallup, who labeled that number "well below the overall national average." Though in lower numbers than with Jewish voters, religiosity helped McCain across the entire American public, with the poll finding that Americans who say religion is an important part of their daily lives support McCain over Obama 50% to 40%, while their less religious counterparts support Obama over McCain 55% to 36%. "If nothing else, the poll shows that observant Jews are the swing voters of the Jewish community and that each candidate thus has a practical interest in addressing observant Jews' concerns," said Nathan Diament, the director of the Institute for Public Affairs of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, though he noted that the poll didn't describe the Jewish respondents' levels of observance. Neither campaign could immediately be reached for comment. The results are an aggregate of polls conducted from March through June of nearly 95,000 American adults. Another Gallup poll from two months earlier gave the Jewish vote as going to Obama over McCain by 61 to 32 percent. At that time, however, Hillary Clinton was still challenging Obama for the Democratic nomination, which could have lowered support for Obama. Jews traditionally back Democratic candidates, with US President George W. Bush, a Republican, garnering a 12-year high of 24% of the Jewish vote in the 2004 election, according to exit polls.