Despite Trump's Israel Policies, American Jews Will Overwhelmingly Vote for Democrats, Poll Finds

Even Trump’s decision to move the American embassy to Jerusalem was viewed negatively by U.S. Jews, new poll claims

U.S. President Donald Trump visits the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City, May 22, 2017.
RONEN ZVULUN/AFP

WASHINGTON – An overwhelming majority of American Jews plan to vote for Democratic candidates in the upcoming midterm elections, according to a new poll released Wednesday. President Donald Trump’s policies on the Israeli-Palestinian issue have garnered him almost no additional Jewish support, the poll concluded.

The poll, conducted by pollster Mark Mellman on behalf of the Jewish Electorate Institute, included interviews with 800 American Jews from different religious streams and geographical areas. The most significant result in the poll: Seventy-four percent of respondents said they plan to vote for a Democratic candidate in their districts in the upcoming November 6 midterm elections. In contrast, only 26 percent plan to vote for Republican candidates.

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These numbers show very little change in U.S. Jewish public opinion compared to what exit polls conducted on Election Day in 2016 had shown. Trump received the votes of approximately 25 percent of American Jews in 2016, according to those polls, while his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton won 70 percent of the U.S. Jewish vote.

In Mellman’s recent poll, Trump’s favorability among Jews is very low, with only 23 percent of respondents saying they have a favorable view of the current president. In comparison, 74 percent expressed a favorable view of former Vice President Joe Biden, and 72 percent expressed a favorable view of the previous president, Barack Obama.

Trump’s overall job approval in the poll stood at 25 percent - significantly lower than his national average, which the polling website 538 currently puts at 42 percent. President Trump earned particularly especially low marks in Mellman’s poll on the following issues: health care, the environment, gun safety and Supreme Court nominations.

Respondents were asked whether they approve or disapprove of Trump’s handling of a dozen issues. The only issue on which a very slight majority approved of his policies was his handling of the U.S.-Israel relationship: 51 percent said they approved of it, while 49 percent said they disapproved. These numbers could explain a recent report, which stated that Trump administration officials are frustrated with the fact that his policies towards Israel have not improved his low level of support among American Jews.

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Even Trump’s decision to move the American embassy to Israel is viewed negatively by a majority of the poll’s respondents. Fifty-six percent said they disapprove of the embassy move, while only 44 percent said they approved. These numbers could perhaps be related to an even larger number of respondents, 62 percent, who said they disapprove of Trump’s handling of U.S. relations with the Palestinians. In addition, 70 percent disapprove of his decision to withdraw from the nuclear deal with Iran.

Seventy-one percent of respondents said they will not consider voting for Trump in the 2020 election. Sixty-four percent said they view the Democratic Party as “pro-Israel”, although in general, the poll shows that support for Israel is only one of a host of issues that will determine how Jewish voters cast their ballots. Fifty-two percent said that “whether a candidate supports Israel” is important for them – but for comparison, 90 percent said the same about “the kind of Supreme Court Justices the candidate will appoint.” More than 80 percent of respondents said their vote would be influenced by a candidate’s positions on health care and taxes.

Overall, 92 percent of the poll’s respondents described themselves as “pro-Israel”. Yet within that group, the poll offered a number of interesting break-down categories. Thirty-two percent described themselves as “pro-Israel, supportive of policies”, referring to Trump's policy on Israel, compared to 35 percent who described themselves as “pro-Israel, critical of some policies” and another 24 percent who described themselves as “pro-Israel, critical of many policies.”

These numbers, in other words, show that while the vast majority or American Jews support Israel, they are also critical of some of its government’s policies, and they don’t see any contradiction between the two things.

The poll’s authors conclude that “American Jews remain fiercely loyal to the Democratic Party, which they see as pro-Israel and also as representing their views on a wide range of issues, both foreign and domestic. They offer negative assessments of President Trump and nearly all his polices, and prioritize domestic issues in deciding which candidate to support. Jews will once again be voting for Democrats in overwhelming numbers next month.”