(October 19, 2020 / JNS) Ahead of the Nov. 3 presidential election, some 75 percent of U.S. Jews would vote for Democratic nominee Joe Biden, while 22 percent would vote to re-elect U.S. President Donald Trump, according to a poll released on Monday by the American Jewish Committee.
In 2016, 71 percent of American Jews voted for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, while 24 percent voted for Trump.
In the AJC survey, American Jews were asked about the most important issue in deciding how to vote, which candidate would do a better job on key issues facing the U.S., as well as questions regarding U.S.-Israel relations and prospects for peace between Israel and the Arab world, and between Israel and the Palestinians.
As in prior years, a pronounced division of opinion exists according to Jewish religious affiliation and political party connection. Asked about party affiliation, 53 percent identified as Democrats, 14 percent as Republicans and 25 percent as Independents.
Trump is preferred by 74 percent of Orthodox, 23 percent of Conservative, 20 percent of Reform, 3 percent of Reconstructionist and 14 percent of secular Jews.
Biden is the choice of 18 percent of Orthodox, 72 percent of Conservative, 78 percent of Reform, 93 percent of Reconstructionist and 83 percent of Secular Jews.
His share of the Jewish vote mirrors the degree of dissatisfaction the survey uncovered about Trump’s performance in office, as 77 percent of the respondents disapproved of the job the president is doing, 73 percent “strongly,” as compared to 22 percent who approved and 15 percent “strongly.”
The difference between Orthodox and other affiliated Jews in viewing how well the president is doing his job is clear in which 75 percent of Orthodox, 24 percent of Conservative, 20 percent of Reform, 4 percent of Reconstructionist and 15 percent of secular Jews approve of Trump’s performance. Those who disapprove are 25 percent of Orthodox, 76 percent of Conservative, 80 percent of Reform, 96 percent of Reconstructionist and 85 percent of secular Jews.
For American Jewish voters, the most important issue in deciding who to vote for is the coronavirus pandemic (26 percent), then health care (17 percent), the economy (13 percent), race relations (12 percent), crime (6 percent), foreign policy (5 percent) or another issue (20 percent).
Health care was chosen as the second most important issue by 20 percent, followed by the coronavirus (18 percent), race relations (17 percent), economy (16 percent), foreign policy (11 percent), crime (5 percent) or some other issue (12 percent).
By wide margins, American Jews believe that, if elected president, Biden would handle several key issues facing America today better than Trump, including the coronavirus pandemic (78 percent vs. 19 percent), combating terrorism (71 percent vs. 26 percent) and anti-Semitism in the United States (75 percent vs. 22 percent). The difference was narrower in those who believe that Biden would be better suited to strengthen U.S.-Israel relations (54 percent vs. 42 percent).
On the U.S.-Israel relationship, 86 percent of respondents characterize it as strong, with 33 percent who say very strong, and 12 percent who responded weak. Republicans (68 percent) are more likely than Independents (35 percent) or Democrats (22 percent) to say U.S.-Israel relations are very strong.
Recent efforts to establish relations between Israel and Arab countries—as was the case last month with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain normalizing ties with the Jewish state—have had some influence on American Jews’ optimism. Nearly two in five (37 percent) say they are more optimistic than they were a year ago about peace between Israel and the Arab world. Forty-nine percent say their views haven’t changed much, while 13 percent say they are less optimistic about peace between Israel and the Arab world.
Republicans (77 percent) are more likely than Independents (45 percent) or Democrats (21 percent) to say they are more optimistic about peace with the Arab world.
On the prospects for Israeli-Palestinian peace, 55 percent of American Jews say their views have not changed, while 28 percent say they are less optimistic, and 16 percent say they are more optimistic than a year ago. Republicans (43 percent) are more likely than Independents (18 percent) or Democrats (7 percent) to say they are more optimistic about peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
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