There was a lot of attention given to a Gallup poll last week showing Jewish approval for President Obama has remained fairly steady at around 60 percent since the beginning of the year (though it has also dropped by 20 points since 2009).
Another poll released the same day, taken by conservative strategist Dick Morris, found a shockingly low 56 percent of Jewish Americans said they would vote to reelect Obama over a generic Republican candidate if the elections were held today.
Considering the fact that 78 percent of Jewish voters cast a ballot for Obama in 2008, this seems like a staggering – and almost unbelievable – drop in support. But here’s one reason to take it seriously: presidential approval ratings often find more support for the president than generic match-ups.
Take, for example, Gallup’s recent generic ballot poll from June 16, which found that just 39 percent of registered American voters would back Obama for reelection against a generic Republican. The president’s approval rating, however, was at 44 percent, according to a Gallup poll taken during the same week.
So it’s certainly plausible that 60 percent of Jewish Americans approve of Obama’s performance, while only 56 percent would currently vote to reelect him. While nobody can predict if these numbers would hold steady once an actual Republican enters the field, the finding undercuts the idea Jewish Americans would automatically side with Obama over any GOP candidate.
And unlike the Gallup poll, Morris asked respondents their opinions on Obama’s Israel policy. Needless to say, the results were not encouraging for the president:
Triggering the increasing Jewish disaffection with Obama is opposition to his proposal that an Israeli return to ’67 borders be the starting point of peace negotiations. By 10-83, Jewish voters opposed the plan. Jewish Democrats opposed it by 10-67. Asked if President Obama is “too biased against Israel,” Jewish voters as a whole agreed with the charge by 39-30, while 32 percent of Jewish Democrats also agreed (and 40 percent of Jewish Democrats disagreed).
A few final takeaways from both polls: Gallup’s was of 350 Jewish Americans, and had a margin of error of plus or minus 7 percent. In comparison, Morris’s poll was of 1,000 Jewish voters, and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percent. Morris’s seems to have an edge here, which is certainly something to keep in mind as you compare both surveys.
Alana Goodman is an assistant online editor for Commentary magazine, where she covers news and politics for its Contentions blog, where this originally appeared.