American Jews are concerned about anti-Semitism and disapprove of Trump, survey
By Ron Kampeas
May 22, 2019
A survey of American Jews showed continued disapproval of
President Donald Trump, with anti-Semitism high and Israel low on the priority
list for Jewish voters.
The survey, conducted for a liberal-leaning Jewish
organization, the Jewish Electorate Institute, by Greenberg Research, which does
polling for Democratic candidates, showed 71 percent of likely Jewish-American
voters disapprove of Trump and 29 percent approve, commensurate with polling
since Trump’s election.
A generic Democrat would score 67 percent of the Jewish
vote in the presidential election, while Trump would get 23 percent.
The survey released Wednesday of 1,000 Jewish voters
nationally was taken between May 6 and 12, and is consistent with past polling
of a constituency that leans strongly Democratic. According to the RealClear
national averages show Trump’s disapproval ratings in the low 50s and his
approval ratings in the low 40s.
In a favorability rating chart, Trump scored 70 percent
unfavorable and 26 percent favorable, in contrast to his predecessor, Barack
Obama, who scored 70 percent favorable and 27 percent unfavorable.
The pollster asked respondents about only two Democrats
running for the party’s presidential nomination, Sen. Bernie Sanders of
Vermont and former Vice President Joe Biden, who are leading in the national
polls. Biden performed considerably better than Sanders, who is Jewish, although
both men bested Trump. Biden’s favorable/unfavorable score was 66/29 and
Sanders, who is running well to the left of Biden, was 51/43.
The poll showed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu’s favorable/unfavorable score as 45/38. Netanyahu used to score high
approval among American Jews, but his sustained clashes with Obama on
Palestinian and Iran policy, and his closeness to Trump appear to have eroded
American Jewish support.
On issues, the only area where Trump earned positive marks
was on relations with Israel, with 55 percent approving of his handling of the
U.S.-Israel relationship and 45 percent disapproving. Trump has forged a close
relationship with Netanyahu, moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, recognizing
Israel’s claim to the Golan Heights, pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal and
distancing the United States from the Palestinians. The survey showed that a
substantial majority of Jewish voters, 64 percent, disapproved of Trump pulling
out of the Iran deal, while 36 percent approved.
Trump fared poorly on a range of other issues, including
abortion (60 unfavorable/40 favorable), immigration (67 unfavorable/33
favorable) and health care (69 unfavorable/31 favorable). Notably, his score on
dealing with anti-Semitism was 71 percent unfavorable and 29 percent favorable.
Trump has downplayed the threat of white supremacists, even after an alleged
white supremacist carried out the worst attack on Jews in U.S. history, in
October at a Pittsburgh synagogue, and has been seen as equivocating in
condemning the far right.
Jewish Democrats said the survey validated their concerns
“American Jews vote their values and strongly disapprove
of President Trump’s handling of nearly every issue, especially immigration
and combating anti-Semitism,” Halie Soifer, the executive director of the
Jewish Democratic Council of America, said in a statement.
Matt Brooks, the Republican Jewish Coalition’s executive
director, said the news was good for Trump.
“The Jewish numbers for Trump are a floor and generic Dem
numbers are a ceiling,” Brooks said on Twitter. “No one who now says
they’re for Trump are going to change their minds. He will get a higher share
of the Jewish vote than this.”
Asked about voting booth priorities, the highest score went
to protecting social safety net programs like Medicare and Social Security, with
58 percent of respondents listing it as “one of the most important.”
Combating anti-Semitism scored next highest at 54 percent. Third was affordable
health care at 53 percent, and after that, gun safety laws came in at 50
percent, combating white supremacists at 49 percent, and combating terrorism at
47 percent. “Whether the candidate supports Israel” was among the lowest,
with 28 percent saying it was “one of the most important” issues.
“Interviews were conducted online through a randomly
selected panel,” the pollster said, referring to a process in which voters who
have previously indicated a willingness to participate in surveys are randomly
selected for email solicitations to join in a survey. The system is becoming
more popular because of the increased difficulty in recent decades of reaching
respondents over landlines. The poll had a margin of error of 3.2 percentage
The Jewish Electorate Institute describes itself as
“dedicated to deepening the public’s understanding of Jewish American
participation in our democracy.” Its board consists
of figures who have been prominent in the Jewish organizational world and in