Poll: American Jews and Muslims United in Support for Obama, Democrats

In survey conducted at the end of January, Jews identify with being American more than Muslims, Catholics or Protestants.

Muslim American community leaders sit for a roundtable discussion with Obama at the Islamic Society of Baltimore mosque in Catonsville, Maryland, February 3, 2016.
Reuters

A clear majority of American Jews, 58%, approve of the way Barack Obama is handling is job as president. The only religious group that is happier with Obama are American Muslims – 80% of them approve of Obama. Only 32% of Catholics and 28% of Protestants agree.

Muslim and Jews are also similarly inclined to root for either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders for President – or at least they were at the end of January. 30% of the Jews supported Clinton, 24% Sanders, 13% Donald Trump, 5% Ted Cruz and 3% Marco Rubio, with a further 25% apparently still on the fence. Among Muslims, support for Democrats was even starker: 40% support Clinton, 27% Sanders, 4% Trump, 2% Cruz and 1% Rubio, leaving 26% undecided. Jews and Muslims are also united in preferring Democrats to Republicans generally.

These and other comparisons between Muslims and Jews are highlighted in a new poll conducted at the end of January by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU) that focuses on the American Muslim community. The ISPU is a research group with offices in Washington DC and Dearborn, Michigan dedicated to promoting understanding for American Muslims and amplifying their voices in the American public arena It is led by Egyptian born Dalia Mogahed who served on Barack Obama’s White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

Of the four religions included in the poll, Jews are the likeliest to state that their American identity is “important to the way you think of yourself”: the figures are 70% for Jews, 60% for Muslims, 54% for Protestants and 47% for Catholics. The numbers are reversed when respondents were asked how important religion is in the way they think of themselves: 44% Jews, 64% Muslims, 79% Protestants and 85% Catholic. One of the reasons for the gap, perhaps, is that respondents who declined to name any religion at all were not included in the survey. This means that secular Americans were not polled, while Jews may have identified as such for cultural rather than religious reasons were included.

Thus, only 24% of Jews say religion is “extremely important” to their daily lives compared with 38% of Catholics, 46% of Protestants and 52% of Muslims. 37% of Muslims and 41% of Protestants and 37% of Catholics said their religion should be the main source of American law or simply one source among others, compared to only 16% of Jews. 77% of Jews said their religion should not be a source of American law, compared with 60% or less for the other three religions.

The poll finds that Muslim and Jews are the most likely to report experiencing discrimination, though the former much more than the latter: 44% of Muslims say they encounter discrimination on a regular or occasional basis, compared to 24% of Jews.

The main issue on which Muslims and Jews appear to differ is the role of religion in state affairs: Muslims and Protestants are the biggest supporters of such a role, while Jews are the smallest.  Another stark difference between Muslims and Jews concerns the question of targeted assassinations: 47% of Jews say it is “sometimes justified”, along with 47% of Catholics and 42% of Protestants. But only 22% of Muslims justify such killings, perhaps because their co-religionists are the main target of targeted assassinations carried out by the U.S. (and Israel).

The poll was conducted in late January, and included 515 Muslims and 312 American Jews, with a margin of error of over 6% for both.