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May 22, 2019 5:04 pm

New Poll of US Jews Connects Growing Anxiety Over Antisemitism With Broader Opposition to Trump

avatar by Ben Cohen

US President Donald Trump at the White House. Photo: Reuters / Carlos Barria.

A clear majority of American Jews feel insecure and angry about antisemitism in the US, with many holding President Donald Trump at least partially responsible for this troubling situation, a new poll of 1,000 Jewish respondents revealed on Wednesday.

The poll — commissioned by the left-leaning Jewish Electorate Institute (JEI) and carried out by veteran Democratic pollster Stanley Greenberg — also showed that support for Israel was the lowest political priority among non-Orthodox American Jews, with Trump’s dramatic realignment with the Israeli government over the last two years having virtually no positive impact on his standing in the community.

“Opposition to Trump is very strong, very intense, and continuing,” Greenberg told a conference call regarding the poll’s findings on Wednesday morning.

A summary analysis of the poll emphasized that 73 percent of Jewish voters “believe Jewish Americans are less secure than they were two years ago,” and that “71 percent disapprove of the way President Trump has handled antisemitism.”

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Those worries have manifested alongside strong opposition to the administration’s policies more generally. According to Wednesday’s poll, domestic concerns about healthcare, the rightward drift of immigration policy, gun control laws and the growing brazenness of white nationalists in the US have all contributed to the “overwhelming opposition” to Trump among Jewish voters.

The poll analysis highlighted that “out of 23 issues tested, Trump gets some of his lowest ratings on family separations at the Mexican border (78 percent), handling of DACA recipients (74 percent), guns (74 percent), handling of the Mueller Report (73 percent), anti-Semitism (71 percent), building of the border wall (71 percent), taxes (70 percent), Supreme Court nominations (69 percent), healthcare (69 percent), and banning immigration from certain Muslim-majority countries (66 percent).”

Greenberg remarked that when it came to Jewish perceptions of what he called a “period of great insecurity,” it was “stunning how clearly political the response is, and how much of it is aligned with the opposition to President Trump.”

According to the poll, when asked about how to improve security for Jews in America, “the largest bloc (43 percent) say they are looking to elect a candidate who shares their values, and 39 percent say they want to work to defeat President Trump in 2020.” According to the poll, a generic Democrat candidate would win 67 percent of the Jewish vote in the next presidential election, while Trump would receive 23 percent.

The poll also noted that 31 percent of voters “want Democrats to do more about antisemitism.” Speaking on the call, Greenberg said that this number should be understood “in the context of political debates where Democratic politicians have been accused of antisemitism.”

While Israel remains the lowest of campaigning priorities for American Jews, a slim majority approve of the current administration’s pro-Israel turn. Among millennials especially, “a candidate’s stance on Israel is of relatively low importance to Jewish voters as they determine which candidate to support in the 2020 election,” the poll analysis stated.

Political analyst Mitchell Rocklin  — a research associate at Princeton University’s James Madison Program who has written widely on Jewish voting patterns — argued that the snap poll was not a complete representation of the political orientations of American Jews.

“The Jewish community is incredibly diverse,” Rocklin told The Algemeiner on Wednesday. “We know already that there are sharp voting contrasts between Orthodox Jews and Russian Jews and most other Jewish communities.” Rocklin added that most estimates among modern Orthodox and Haredi Jews had consistently downplayed their level of support for Trump, whereas the analysis of precinct returns had typically shown Trump receiving upwards of 70 percent support in these communities.

Moreover, Rocklin said, Trump’s lack of popularity among non-Orthodox Jewish voters was consistent with that of his Republican predecessors — a pattern that has been visible since the election of President George W. Bush to his second term in 2004.

Wednesday’s poll was a further indication that “we’re seeing the breakdown of a unified Jewish political community,” Rocklin said.

“At this point, there are distinct Jewish political communities when it comes to presidential voting patterns,” he remarked.

Greeenberg’s survey was conducted from May 6-12 among 1,000 respondents who were “screened for Jewish identity,” with a margin of error of 3.2 percentage points.

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