Obama and Jewish Voters: Gallup Doesn't See an Exodus

Gallup finds no decline in Jewish support after controversial speech on Israel and Palestine

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Despite his controversial speech calling for a peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians to be based on Israel's 1967 borders, President Obama has not lost support among Jewish voters, Gallup's Lydia Saad explains. Obama has a 60 percent job approval rating from Jewish Americans, a new poll finds, down from 68 percent in May and 64 percent in April. The last Gallup reading on Obama's approval rating with everyone was at 46 percent.

Saad writes, "Gallup cannot say whether the speech had an immediate impact on the views of Jewish Americans toward the president nationally, as sample sizes for this group in Gallup Daily tracking are too small to isolate short time periods." Even so, she writes, the poll's findings contrast with a recent article by Politico's Ben Smith suggesting "a 'tipping point' may have been reached with Jews who have long harbored concerns about the president's support of Israel. That conclusion, based on Smith's conversations with 'center-left American Jews and Obama supporters--and many of them Democratic donors' may apply to certain politically active members of the Jewish-American community, but according to recent Gallup trends, is not reflective of the views of Jewish Americans more generally."

And Smith responds to Saad by saying, first of all, that he "didn't wind up citing any data in the story for the same reason that Gallup can't draw conclusions from the drop it sees in its polling: There aren't any large enough samples of American Jews out there to talk reliably about relatively small shifts." Second, he says, it's important to look at the small slice of Jewish voters who are pro-Israel and Democratic and mark up "an outsized share of the Democratic donor base, and a vocal constituency. Their voices matter in part because Israel is, for many Jews and non-Jews, a kind of token for other national security issues." Smith notes that the Obama team, at least, is nervous of a shift in that group, given its "new push from the Obama campaign to win back pro-Israel Jewish support." Indeed, last month, Democrats boasted about a turnout 50 percent above what at organizers had hoped for a fundraiser for pro-Israel Democrats in Washington, The Hill's Michael O'Brien reports.

Slate's Dave Weigel notes Obama's approval rating is still significantly smaller than the share of the Jewish vote he got in 2004 (78 percent) and the share John Kerry got in 2004 (74 percent) and calls his speech an "own-goal" error. (Vote share and approval ratings, of course, are not equivalent measures.) Outside the Beltway's Doug Mataconis sees some strength in the new soundings and concludes that it shouldn't be surprising: "Just like any other demographic group, Jewish Americans are not a single-issue voting group. ... Indeed, and the idea that the GOP is going to suddenly be able to break apart the Democratic coalition over Israel is simply to absurd to be believed."

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