New poll: Jewish support for Obama slipping, but Jews are still top supporters

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

Jewish Republicans were crowing this afternoon about a new Quinnipiac poll showing a big drop in President Barack Obama’s support among a Jewish electorate that gave him overwhelming support last November.

While the news was a little more nuanced than the Republican Jewish Coalition admitted in its press release, it reflected an overall drop that has Democrats worried as next year’s midterm congressional elections approach.

As the RJC noted, “only 52 percent of Jewish respondents approved of the way President Obama is handling the economy.”

What the RJC left out: that was higher than any other religious group.  Only 20 percent of evangelicals,  27 percent of Protestants and 36 percent of Catholics approved of his performance on economic issues.

The breakdowns were similar when respondents were asked about health care; 49 percent; of the Jews approved of his handling of the issue, which can’t be good news to the White House or Democratic leaders. But that was still significantly higher than the totals for other groups: 23 percent for Protestants, 31 percent for Catholics and a dismal 17 percent for “Born-again evangelical.”

Overall, “Obama gets a a thumbs up from 32 percent of white Protestants, 42 percent of white Roman Catholics and 52 percent of Jews,” according to the pollsters.

Translation: Obama’s numbers are declining among Americans in general, but Jewish voters, while much less positive about his presidency than they were before,  remain just about his strongest supporters.

But let’s face it: Jewish voters are the least of this president’s concerns right now, and  from that broad perspective, today’s poll was full of bad news.

If current trends continue, “it won’t be long before he could be in the unenviable position of having more Americans disapprove than approve of his job performance,”  said Quinnipiac’s Peter Brown.

Asked if they approve of the way Democrats in Congress are handling their jobs, Jews were almost evenly divided, with 46 percent approving, 48 percent.  Not good news for Jewish Democrats – but not as bad as the totals for other religious groups.  Catholics gave congressional Democrats a 29 percent rating, Protestants 20 percent and evangelicals 16 percent.

Asked if they approve of the way Republicans in Congress are handling their jobs, there was a much bigger gap, with 66 percent of Jewish voters disapproving, 25 percent approving.  Predictably, Jews rated congressional Republicans lower than any other religious group.

You can bet THAT number didn’t appear in the RJC press release. I’m also guessing the National Jewish Democratic Council, while undoubtedly pleased that Jews remain stronger supporters of the Democrats, won’t be touting a poll that shows their president deep into negative territory with some voter groups and edging in that direction among Jewish voters.

About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.