Politics

U.S. Jews Lead Other Religious Groups in Support of Obama

by Lydia Saad

Dip in approval among Jews similar to that among general public

PRINCETON, NJ -- Gallup Daily tracking for the month of September found 64% of U.S. Jews approving of the job Barack Obama is doing as president, significantly higher than the 52% average among national adults in September, and also higher than was seen among Catholics, Protestants, and Mormons. Only nonreligious Americans equal Jews in their support for the president.

President Barack Obama Job Approval, by Religion -- September 2009

Obama receives broad approval from U.S. blacks and Hispanics, regardless of their religious affiliation; most of the variation in his support by religion is seen among non-Hispanic whites. Thus, it is instructive to look at the views of Obama by religion among the non-Hispanic white population.

"Importantly, the decline in approval of Obama among Jews since January is no greater than that seen among the general public."

On this basis, Obama's strength with U.S. Jews relative to other religious groups is even greater. Two-thirds of white Jews (66%) approve of the job Obama is doing, compared with 44% of whites nationwide, 45% of white Catholics, and 37% of white Protestants. (The "Protestant" category includes both those who identify themselves as Protestants, and those who identify themselves as Christians but not Catholics.)

The higher level of Jewish approval of Obama compared to approval from those of other religions conforms with the much greater Democratic orientation of Jews, politically. Two-thirds of Jews overall identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party, a much greater proportion than Gallup finds for any other religious group.

Party ID, by Religion -- September 2009

All of the religious groups covered in this analysis constitute at least 1% of the American public. Muslims are not included because, at less than 0.5% of Gallup's sample, there are too few cases to analyze in Gallup's September polling. However, previous Gallup analysis, based on aggregated samples across several months, has shown Muslims to be highly supportive of Obama.

Decline in Jews' Approval Conforms With National Average

Support for Obama among U.S. Jews has trended downward since January, when 83% approved. However, it remains positive by a 2-to-1 margin, 64% vs. 32%, in September.

Trend in Obama Job Approval Among U.S. Jews -- Monthly Averages

Importantly, the decline in approval of Obama among Jews since January is no greater than that seen among the general public. This suggests that since Obama became president, his actions on Middle East policy issues -- particularly relating to Iran and the Israeli-Palestinian dispute -- have not had a disproportionately negative (or positive) impact on his image among U.S. Jews.

Between January and September, Obama's average monthly approval rating fell by 14 percentage points among all Americans and by 19 points among Jews. Both shifts represent about a 20% decline in approval from January.

Trend in Obama Job Approval -- Monthly Averages, Jews and National Adults

Bottom Line

President Obama enjoys staunch support from U.S. Jews -- much higher than what he earns from Catholics and Protestants, particularly with regard to non-Hispanic whites. This confirms what Gallup found during the 2008 presidential election campaign, when Jews overwhelmingly indicated they were voting for Obama over John McCain. Jews' support for Obama as president has not remained at the lofty 83% level seen in January, but, at 64%, it is still high -- and has descended merely on par with the decline seen among the public at large.

American Jews' solid backing of Obama stands in contrast to Jewish opinion in Israel, where many are still taking stock of the new American president and trying to determine his long-term policy intentions for the Mideast. A recent poll of Jews in Israel, sponsored by the Jerusalem Post, found only 4% believing Obama's policies are "pro-Israel" and 35% calling them evenly balanced, while 51% said they are "pro-Palestinian." By contrast, a previous survey found 88% of Israelis believing George W. Bush's policies were "pro-Israel."

For Israeli Jews, Obama's position toward their country is clearly of central importance to how they view Obama. Gallup has not polled American Jews since Obama's inauguration to measure whether they feel positively or negatively about his stance on Israel or on Mideast policies, more generally. Regardless, their net opinion of him is clearly positive. Much of this can probably be explained by U.S. Jews' heavy Democratic partisanship.

Survey Methods

The latest results are based on aggregated Gallup Daily tracking for the month of September, involving the half-sample of respondents who were asked the President Obama approval question. This includes telephone interviews with 14,407 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Sept. 1-30, 2009. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±0.5 percentage points. For September results based on 379 Jews, the margin of sampling error is ±6 percentage points. The September results for other religious groups are based on larger sample sizes, with smaller associated margins of error.

Interviews are conducted with respondents on land-line telephones and cellular phones.

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

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