Obama's Approval Advantage Among U.S. Jews Narrows

Obama's Approval Advantage Among U.S. Jews Narrows

Story Highlights

  • Jewish approval of Obama now 54%, 8 points above national average
  • Gap between Jews' and nationwide approval has narrowed recently
  • Highly religious Jews are least positive about Obama

PRINCETON, N.J. -- For the first quarter of 2015, 54% of American Jews approved of the job Barack Obama is doing as president, compared with an average of 46% among all Americans. That eight-percentage-point gap is lower than the average 13-point gap seen so far throughout Obama's term in office, and is representative of a general narrowing of Obama's Jewish advantage over the last nine months.

Trend in President Barack Obama Approval Among Jews

A possible weakening of U.S. Jewish support for Obama has been the focus of news media attention in recent months. The administration has embarked on a controversial effort to broker a nuclear agreement with Iran, Israel's longtime avowed enemy, which may have offended some American Jews who see their president as siding more with Iran than with Israel. Adding to the tension, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who strongly opposes a nuclear deal with Iran, got a chilly reaction from the White House when Speaker of the House John Boehner invited him to address Congress last month.

In a broad sense, Jewish support for Obama has followed the general trajectory of approval among all Americans since the president took office in January 2009 -- dropping from the initially high "honeymoon" approval ratings in 2009, rising in early 2012 and immediately after his re-election in November 2012, dropping in late 2013 and again last year, and then gaining for the first three months of 2015.

The approval gap between Jews and all U.S. adults has averaged 13 points since Obama took office, but has fluctuated across that period. The gap has been trending downward recently, dropping to 10 points for the second half of 2014, and is now at eight points for the first quarter of 2015.

Trend: Obama Approval: Difference Between Approval Among Jews and Approval Nationwide

The current findings are based on interviews with 1,022 Americans who identified their religion as Jewish, conducted as part of Gallup Daily tracking from January through March of this year. The larger sample of all Americans is based on 44,101 interviews conducted during the same period.

Jews were particularly positive about Obama in January of this year, with a 61% approval rating, but in the last two months have been much less positive, giving the president a monthly rating of 52% in February and 50% in March -- just six and four points, respectively, above the national averages for those two months. If this trend continues, Obama's relative advantage among Jews for the first half of the year would narrow still further. It should be noted that the monthly trends in job approval among Jews are somewhat variable because of the lower monthly sample size of Jewish respondents in Gallup's Daily tracking (usually between 300 and 400 each month).

Highly Religious Jews Least Positive About Obama

An analysis of the aggregate of interviews conducted January 2014-March 2015 highlights several broad differences in approval within the U.S. Jewish population. Jews are the least religious of any major U.S. religious group. The 16% of Jews who report weekly religious service attendance is half the national average of 33% for the same period. The small segment of Jews who attend services weekly are distinctly less positive about Obama than the others, giving Obama a 34% approval rating, compared with much higher approval ratings among Jews who attend services less frequently.

Obama Job Approval Among Jews, by Education, 2014-2015

Jews With College Degrees, Jewish Women Most Positive About Obama

Almost two-thirds of Jews are college graduates, but among the minority who do not have a college degree -- particularly those who have a high school education or less -- Obama job approval is considerable lower than the overall Jewish average. The range extends from 39% approval among those who have not advanced beyond high school, to 62% among those who have postgraduate education.

Obama Job Approval Among Jews, by Religious Service Attendance, 2014-2015

Reflecting the gender gap in the general population, Obama approval was 11 points higher among Jewish women than among Jewish men over the past 15 months. Over this same period, approval among the overall national population was 46% among women and 40% among men.

Obama Job Approval Among Jews, by Gender, 2014-2015


American Jews are more than twice as likely to identify as Democrats than as Republicans, and this partisan skew is reflected in Obama's job approval ratings. Jews continue to approve of the job Obama is doing at a higher level than the national average, although the evidence suggests that this advantage among Jews is narrowing. How much further this gap may shrink in the months ahead remains to be seen, and will depend in part on the future of the relationship between Obama and Israeli leadership. This in turn will reflect the status of the pending agreement with Iran that would restrict that country's nuclear activity in return for a further loosening of economic sanctions. Other administration actions relating to Israel, including support for a possible two-state solution to the Palestinian situation, could also affect Jewish attitudes toward the president going forward.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Jan. 2-March 31, 2015, on the Gallup U.S. Daily survey, with a random sample of 44,101 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±1 percentage point at the 95% confidence level.

For results based on the total sample of 1,022 Americans who identify their religion as Jewish interviewed between Jan. 2-March 31, 2015, the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.

The margin of sampling error for the entire sample of 221,132 Americans interviewed between Jan. 2, 2014, and March 31, 2015, is ±1 percentage point, and the margin of error for the entire sample of 5,138 American Jews interviewed between Jan. 2, 2014, and March 31, 2015, is ±2 percentage points. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.

Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 50% cellphone respondents and 50% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.

Learn more about how Gallup Daily tracking works.

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