Former Vice President Joe Biden has a significant lead over President Donald Trump among Jewish American voters, but Trump’s support within the Jewish community today is greater than it was in 2016, according to a new poll released Monday by the Jewish Electorate Institute.
The poll, which included online interviews with more than 800 self-identified Jewish American likely voters, shows Biden receiving 67 percent of Jewish votes, whereas Trump would receive 30 percent in the November election.
The level of Jewish support for Biden is thus very close to the 70 percent Hillary Clinton received from the community in the exit polls after the 2016 election: The difference between the two Democratic candidates are statistically insignificant, at this point.
Trump’s level of support at present, however, is higher among Jews than in the 2016 exit polls: Back then, only 25 percent of Jews said they had voted for him – 5 percent less than in the recent survey.
The poll publicized this week by the nonpartisan Washington-based institute was conducted by the Garin Hart Young Research Group during the first week of September, shortly after the Republican National Convention.
Trump’s approval – and disapproval – rating among Jewish voters is similar to the voting breakdown between him and Biden: Sixty-seven percent of the respondents said they disapprove of his job performance, while 30 percent said they approve of it. Thirty percent of the Jewish Americans polled see Trump favorably, while 69 percent see him in an unfavorable light.
Biden and his running mate, Senator Kamala Harris, are both seen favorably by 70 percent of the respondents. Taken separately, 28 percent see the presidential candidate unfavorably, while 24 percent have that opinion of Harris. This implies that there is still a possibility for Biden to increase his voting share somewhat – by convincing people who like him but aren’t planning to vote for him at the moment, to change their mind.
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Only 3 percent of the Jewish Americans who were polled say they are undecided about whom to vote for. This small number corresponds with trends that are clearly being seen in national and state-level polling during this election campaign. The number of undecided voters in general today is much smaller than in 2016. The Jewish electorate, according to a memo prepared by the pollsters, is “pretty much locked in place.”
When it comes to the gender of the respondents, they add, there is a gap – with 75 percent of women saying they will vote for Biden, versus 57 percent of men. Trump wins the support of 42 percent of the Jewish men surveyed, but only 20 percent of the Jewish women.
The new poll also asked respondents to rank the importance of several issues in determining their decision how to vote. The most important issues were the economy (rated as being either "important" or "very important" among 92 percent of those surveyed), health care (91 percent), the coronavirus crisis (90 percent) and antisemitism (82 percent). Israel, however, is on the bottom of the list, with only 64 percent of the respondents ranking it as important and only 25 percent as “very important.”
In recent years other surveys of Jewish American public opinion have shown a similar trend: Members of the community largely vote with their minds set on domestic priorities, not foreign policy. At the same time, however, 88 percent of respondents in the recent poll say they define themselves as “pro-Israel” – without explaining what the term actually means.
Respondents were also asked in the new poll about whom they trust more on important issues. Biden leads Trump on each and every one, but the gaps are noteworthy, with 67 percent saying they trust the Democratic candidate more when it comes to health care, while 66 percent trust him to handle COVID-19 better. On the issue of antisemitism, 60 percent say they trust Biden more, whereas only 26 percent have more trust in Trump. Biden also has a solid 30 percent lead on the issue of securing the safety of the Jewish community.
The issue on which the gap is the smallest between the two candidates is Israel: Forty-six percent of respondents place more trust in Biden in this category, as opposed to the 32 percent who trust Trump. The Trump campaign, like previous Republican presidential campaigns, is hoping to use his policy on Israel to expand its level of support among Jewish voters, especially in the crucial swing states of Florida and Pennsylvania.
A majority of those polled say they feel less secure in America than they did four years ago, when Trump was elected, and 56 percent say America will be less safe for Jews if he is re-elected; only 25 percent say it will be more safe, in that case.
The memo released by the pollsters did not include any information on the religious practices of the respondents, but previous polls have shown that most of Trump’s support among the Jewish community comes from Orthodox Jews. Reform, Conservative and secular Jews tend to strongly oppose the 45th president.
Halie Soifer, executive director of the Jewish Democratic Council of America, said in reply to the poll results: “This poll confirms – there is nothing Donald Trump or Republicans can do to move the needle with Jewish voters. Donald Trump’s policy toward Israel, including the UAE agreement, has not persuaded any Jewish voters to support him. The Jewish vote is effectively locked in support of Joe Biden, whom Jewish voters trust over Donald Trump on every issue, including Israel."
Soifer added that “Jewish voters have made up their minds for 2020, and they are voting against Donald Trump because of his failure handling coronavirus, his efforts to deprive Americans of access to health care, his threats to social and racial justice, his emboldening of anti-Semitism and white nationalism.”