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Friday, July 8, 2011

Jewish Democrats’ Support for Obama

NOTE: Gallup Senior Editor Lydia Saad is guest-posting this blog entry.

Gallup recently published a story focusing on approval of President Obama among American Jews, finding no evidence that his May 19 Mideast policy speech had a significant impact on Jewish attitudes. The story also addressed the trend among Jewish Democrats, specifically. As noted, Gallup Daily tracking data for the seven weeks on either side of the speech showed 86% of Jewish Democrats approving of Obama prior to May 19 and 85% after -- essentially no change.

To expand that analysis, here are the full monthly trends for Obama’s approval ratings among Jewish Democrats. This is shown alongside the trend in approval among all Democrats (with the larger sample sizes for the latter producing a smoother line).

Jewish Democrats’ approval of Obama in June 2011 (83%) was nine percentage points lower than the 92% recorded at the start of his presidency in January 2009. That decrease matches the decline, from 87% to 78%, seen among all Democrats over the same period. In other words, the decline in Obama approval among Jewish Democrats has been no steeper than the decline among all Democrats -- indicating Obama has not done anything to particularly alienate his Jewish base.

This can also be seen by comparing June 2011 approval ratings to the average ratings of Obama from January 2009 through May 2011. Jewish Democrats’ 83% approval of Obama in June is just three points lower than their average approval of him for all previous months of his presidency (86%). This three-point gap is essentially no different from the four-point gap between the two figures seen for all Democrats (78% in June vs. 82% for all prior months).

Obama’s May 19 speech -- in which he announced his support for Israel’s 1967 borders as the foundation for renewed Israeli-Palestinian peace talks -- received an immediate, and in some cases strongly negative, reaction from Israeli officials, members of Congress, media pundits, and others “in the know.” Perhaps their reactions to Obama’s proposals and associated commentary on Obama’s support for Israel is still filtering down to the public, including to ordinary Jewish Americans, and thus the full impact on public opinion is still forming. If that’s the case, Gallup may yet find a shift in Jewish attitudes in July. It’s also possible that the main impact of Obama’s speech is on the most politically active Jewish Americans, and will affect their support and financial contributions even if it doesn’t affect the views of average Jewish Democrats across the country. For now, however, it’s clear the speech has not shaken confidence in Obama among Jewish Americans, broadly -- or, more specifically, among Jewish Democrats.

Lydia Saad


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