2020 Candidates' Stance on Israel Is Lowest Priority for U.S. Jews, Poll Shows

In new Jewish Electorate Institute poll, Israel ranks at the bottom of a list of 16 policy subjects that Jewish voters view as a priority ahead of presidential election

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump with Netanyahu at the White House in Washington, U.S., March 25, 2019
\ Leah Millis/ REUTERS

NEW YORK — A presidential candidate’s stance on Israel is the lowest priority for American Jewish voters, a poll released by the Jewish Electorate Institute on Wednesday revealed.

The poll, conducted on the organization’s behalf by Greenberg Research, surveyed 1,000 Jewish voters earlier this month and showed that Israel ranks at the bottom of a list of 16 policy subjects that Jewish voters view as a priority.

Health care, gun safety laws and new jobs, as well as tackling white supremacy in the Unite States, are among the issues Jewish voters view as more pressing. 

Overall, the study noted that the Jewish community continues to identify strongly as pro-Israel, with 90 percent of respondents describing themselves as such, but more than half are critical of at least some of the Israeli government’s policies.

Most view the Democratic Party as pro-Israel, but 31 percent would like Democrats to do more about anti-Semitism.

>> In the U.S., more Jews than Christians see Trump's policies as too pro-Israel, poll finds

The JEI poll also revealed that nearly three-quarters of American Jewish voters feel their community is less secure than it was two years ago, and more than half believe U.S. President Donald Trump bears some responsibility for this. 

According to the data, close to 60 percent of American Jewish voters believe Trump is at least partially to blame for the recent violent attacks on synagogues in Pittsburgh and Poway. Thirty-eight percent of Jewish voters also expressed concerns that the president is encouraging violent right-wing extremists.

In general, 71 percent disapprove of Trump’s handling of anti-Semitism, including a 54 percent majority who strongly disapprove.

As the 2020 election campaign begins, 43 percent say they are looking to elect a candidate who shares their values to improve the security of Jews in the United States, and 39 percent say they want to work to replace Trump in 2020. 

The poll showed that only 23 percent of Jewish voters support Trump, a similar number to the last JEI poll conducted in October.

The president's lowest approval ratings are on family separations at the Mexican border; his handling of DACA recipients; his stance on guns; his handling of the Mueller Report; his handling of anti-Semitism; and building of the border wall, among others. 

The JEI also showed that there is no growth in support for the Republican Party among Jewish voters. Similar to its 2018 poll, 25 percent of respondents identified as Republican. The percentage of those identifying as Democrats or Independent also remains unchanged. 

“We now have hard data demonstrating that President Trump’s assertions of American Jews abandoning the Democratic Party are entirely false,” said Halie Soifer, executive director of the Jewish Democratic Council of America. “Overwhelming disapproval of President Trump and the Republican policy agenda will drive the Jewish vote in 2020, and Republicans should be deeply concerned.”

The poll also showed that two-thirds of those ages 18 to 29 and millennials under 35 disapprove of Trump, and he enjoys support from only 24 percent of non-Orthodox millennial Jews.