Jewish American Democrats Largely Divided on Clinton v. Obama
by Jonathan Singer, Wed Apr 09, 2008 at 02:29:07 PM EDT
This is a little old, but I'm just seeing it now. According to Gallup polling (via the Jewish Review of Portland, Oregon), Democrats of the Jewish faith are fairly evenly divided on their pick for the party's presidential nominee. Take a look at these numbers released March 24:
Jewish Democratic voters show a slight preference for Hillary Clinton (48%) over Barack Obama (43%) for the party's 2008 presidential nomination. The five-point Clinton advantage is within the margin of error for this sample of Jewish Democrats.
The data are based on interviews with 348 Jewish Democratic voters conducted in Gallup Poll Daily tracking in March. So far this month, all Democratic voters regardless of religious affiliation are equally divided (46% each) in their nomination preferences between Clinton and Obama.
Obama's ability to win votes in the U.S. Jewish community has been questioned, given suggestions that he does not support Israel as strongly as other candidates. Some of Obama's supporters (including the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, former pastor of Obama's church) and foreign policy advisers are regarded as anti-Israel. Obama has met with Jewish leaders to reassure them of his commitment to Israel.
There have been some implicit arguments that Obama would not do well among American Jews, a key constituency within the Democratic base (the roughly 2 percent of the electorate voted for Democratic over Republican House candidates in 2006 by a 87 percent to 12 percent margin, for instance). However, this Gallup polling makes clear that Americans of the Jewish faith within the Democratic Party are about as evenly divided as Democrats as a whole, with the difference between the two candidates falling within the poll's margin of error.
What does this all augur for the rest of the Democratic race? Only one remaining state, Pennsylvania, has a Jewish population that is somewhat sizable in relation to the overall population. In 2006, for instance, Jews were estimated to make up about 5 percent of Pennsylvanians going to the polls on election day, 78 percent of whom backed Bob Casey Jr. and 85 percent of whom backed Ed Rendell. I can't seem to find exit polling on the 2002 gubernatorial primary in the state (which happened to be between Rendell and Casey), the last seriously contested top-of-the-ballot Democratic primary in the state, in order to figure out just what percentage of the Democratic primary electorate tends to be of the Jewish faith, though I'd suppose that it wouldn't tell us a whole lot about the upcoming presidential primary in the Keystone state given that so many more voters will likely turn out this month than have turned out in the past. Regardless, it seems unlikely that Pennsylvania Jews will significantly tip the scales towards Clinton over Obama on April 22.
Regardless, the takeaway from these numbers seems to be this: There is little evidence to support the notion that Jewish American voters are unwilling to support Obama, and in fact it appears that Jewish Americans who are Democrats are divided by about the same margin as their party as a whole when it comes to choosing between Obama and Clinton.