I argued yesterday that, as the midterm elections approach, the Israel issue is not seen as being broadly resonant. However, there is no reason it wouldn’t remain resonant within the Jewish community. In fact, the big new Pew poll—the same one that reported that 18 percent of Americans incorrectly believe President Obama is Muslim—found that 33 percent of American Jews identify with or lean toward the Republican Party, which is way up from 26 percent in 2006 and way, way up from 20 percent in 2008 (the year roughly 22 percent of Jews voted for Republican candidate John McCain).
Is this the beginning of a trend? Is it significant even to the midterm elections? Ron Kampeas is skeptical. Though Pew polled over 3000 people, only 60 identified as Jewish, and, according to Kampeas, “mainstream pollsters regard numbers below 250 respondents as unreliable.” On the other hand, that 60 figure represents two percent of the overall sample, closely reflecting Jews’ proportion of the population.
If there were nothing you could point to as an explanation for the jump, you might be more inclined to dismiss the figure. But given the reaction of some in the Jewish community to President Obama’s outreach to the Arab world and calls for an Israeli settlement freeze, as well as what the same poll told us about the (incorrect) suspicions over the president’s heritage, well, it just seems to make sense.
Most importantly, it is overall the most Republican-leaning year since before 2006 (since well before 2006, I’d argue): It would be weird if that didn’t show up in the Jewish polling numbers. While more comprehensive polls will hopefully come out soon, if I had to bet on it, though, I’d say the GOP-friendly trend is real.
Growing Number of Americans Say Obama Is Muslim [Pew]
Poll Suggests Surge in Jewish Support for GOP [JTA]
Earlier: Israel Unmentioned in Sestak Profile
Related: In Defining Obama, Misperceptions Stick [NYT]