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A new just-released “survey” of political preferences among American Modern Orthodox Jews and Haredim has been issued by “Nishma.” Nishma has a history of issuing surveys that often raise eyebrows by reporting curious results that skew left but that indeed have some anecdotal value and some curiosity interest. Importantly, Nishma is not on the level of, say, the Pew Survey or the Harvard-Harris, Quinnipiac, Economist/YouGov, Wall Street Journal/NBC, or Rasmussen polls. Its results tend to skew markedly to the left of what one might expect. But Nishma nevertheless generates approving headlines in certain Jewish online publications looking to report eyebrow-raising or left-wing “news,” assuring its polls thereafter come up in Google searches. This creates a narrative whose accuracy may well be challenged by those who follow these issues more carefully.


Put more forthrightly: The Left wants to change public opinion by convincing people in the overwhelmingly conservative-oriented mainstream of Modern Orthodox religious Zionism that they are out of touch with their fellow Modern Orthodox religious Zionist Jews. So if they can point to a poll that shows that Modern Orthodox religious Zionists actually are overwhelmingly left-wing, liberal Democrats, they hope to get into people’s heads and convince them to re-think their core beliefs to accord with everyone around them. That, in fact, is what 38 weeks of heavily funded Leftist street demonstrations in Tel Aviv are all about: convincing people with rock-solid conservative views to begin doubting themselves, to wonder whether they are out of sync with everyone around them. Indeed, that is why totalitarian governments control media to assure one narrative. It was said of the Soviet Union’s Izvestia daily (which means “news” in Russian) and Pravda (which means “truth”) that “There is no izvestia in Pravda, and no pravda in Izvestia.”

In this latest Nishma “poll,” the blaring press release is that 61 percent of all American Modern Orthodox Jews expect to vote for the Democrat candidate for U.S. president in 2024. And only 39 percent will vote Republican.

I do not believe it. Not in the sense of “Wow, the New York Jets won a football game? I don’t believe it!” Not in the sense of “Wow, my kid cleaned her bedroom? I can’t believe it!” But in the sense of:  I . . . do . . . not . . believe that 61 percent of Modern Orthodox American Jews will vote for Biden or whomever the Democrats select to run in 2024.

Nor should you. Look all around you. Look at your friends, your enemies. The people in shul. People with knitted kippot. Yes, there are many liberals. But so many more conservatives. And note that the infinitely more credible Pew Survey found in a 2013 study that just 37% of Modern Orthodox Jews identified as Democrat-leaning while 56% identified as Republican or Republican-leaning.

Just look at reality. It comes back to a Jewish Federation survey in Southern California twenty years ago. They “found” there was virtually zero growth in the L.A. Orthodox community in the prior ten years. But during those years, every shul in Greater Los Angeles grew so robustly that they expanded their buildings or built new ones to hold everyone — and so did every yeshiva. Every single one.: Beth Jacob of Beverly Hills expanded. Young Israel of Century City doubled or more. They practically bought the entire block.  Shaarey Zedek in the San Fernando Valley mega-expanded. So did the various Lubavitch places (“Chabads”). The Emek Hebrew Academy built a magnificent new building. Hillel Hebrew Academy expanded. Yavneh Hebrew Academy.  West Valley Hebrew Academy launched. (The term “Hebrew Academy” is Angelino for “Yeshiva.” That way the non-Orthodox are not scared to enroll their kids there.) Additional shuls and yeshivot opened all over Southern California. There was a concomitant explosion of kosher restaurants and bakeries to serve the expanded Orthodox population. Sushi places, kosher burger joints, the de rigueur kosher Chinese restaurant, and — for Los Angeles — the equally expected “Mexican casita.” The Modern Orthodox community of Pico-Robertson did the once-inconceivable and crossed to expand east of Robertson. And new kosher pizza places galore. Kosher pizza stores never lie.

I know from Modern Orthodox Jews. I am one. They write to me. Some love me. Others yell at me. A few hate me. It’s mishpocho. Some of my best friends are Modern Orthodox Jews — and all my worst enemies are. Modern Orthodox Jews surely are more politically liberal than Haredim, but no way are 61% of Modern Orthodox Jews voting Democrat in 2024 unless the GOP runs a ticket of David Duke and Nick Fuentes, while the Democrats run Bezalel Smotrich and Joe Lieberman.

Yes, many Modern Orthodox rabbonim (rabbis) and laity will vote for the Democrat in 2024. Absolutely. A community is not monolithic. Differences of opinion exist in any society where it is safe to differ. But Sixty-One Percent Democrat?  Gimme a break.

So how can “Nishma” be so wrong?

Always look at a poll’s (i) methodology and its (ii) sponsorship. Israeli polls once predicted Gideon Sa’ar winning 15-18 Knesset seats or Ron Huldai’s new party sweeping into the Knesset with 8-9 seats. It’s a joke.

The methodological problem with virtually every single Nishma survey I have seen is that those “surveys” are done by email — and ask responders to forward the survey-emails to people they know. Got that?  This allows sincere people who are passionate about influencing public opinion to maximize their response group to skew the results, while others less interested do not. So if a small number of liberals among Modern Orthodox American Jews strategize to send the “survey” to everyone they know, while the other side yawns, the survey gets tilted like a pinball machine . . . or the Titanic. To boot, others were reached through WhatsApp groups and WhatsApp status lists. Also, responders to past Nishma surveys culled from similar sources were invited to participate.

It is like the street demonstrations in Israel. One side gets a zillion people in the streets 38 weeks in a row, while the other side holds only two large rallies during that same time. Does that mean one side is stronger by 19 times (i.e., 38-2)? Or does it reflect that one side has enormous leftist-zillionaire funding from America that the other side does not? And that one side uses such street tactics while the other side, uh, votes instead?

And the sponsorship. Now we get into Silly Season. This survey was sponsored by a well known Jewish extreme-left academic who has been deeply engaged in (i) J Street, (ii) New Israel Fund, and (iii) even IfNotNow. He both launched this survey and co-sponsored it! In the words of the public release: “This survey was initiated and sponsored by Prof. David Myers, the Sady and Ludwig Chair of Jewish History at UCLA, and was co-sponsored by Nishma Research.”

Why does an extreme-left professor launch and co-sponsor a survey of Orthodox Jewish political preferences, and why does he select a surveying operation that has a history of results that skew left? Question noted and answered.

As soon as the survey was released, this professor immediately issued a statement in conjunction with the release. So now he endorses this survey of Modern Orthodox and other Jews as the definitive polling on the subject, with his statement issued alongside the survey announcement: “[I]t challenges the idea of a single Orthodox voting bloc by showing that Modern Orthodox and Haredi Jews have quite different political attitudes, sources of political information, views on the 2020 election and the January 6 events at the Capitol, and plans for the 2024 election.”

And who exactly is Prof. David Myers, the instigator and sponsor? He served as president of the board of New Israel Fund. Listed on the J Street Advisory Council. Wrote and signed a public fundraising letter for IfNotNow. Listed as an Academic Advisory Board member of “Jewish Voice for Peace,” a BDS (and worse) group. In the words of Daniel Greenfield, Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center, “There is hardly an organization in the anti-Israel network where Myers hasn’t left his fingerprints.”

And so another splashy-headline poll of Jews bites the dust. But it will be cited over and over again by googlers who will leverage it to advance their leftist agenda. Certainly figures don’t lie — but liars can figure. A shame that life works this way.

And now we will have to counter endless falsifiers who google and cite to that nonsense as “proof” that 61 percent of Modern Orthodox American Jews will vote for Joe Biden. Bupkis.

This is precisely what gives polls a bad name.


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Rabbi Dov Fischer, Esq., is rav of Young Israel of Orange County, California and is Vice President and Senior Rabbinic Fellow at Coalition for Jewish Values. He is a senior contributing editor at The American Spectator, was Chief Articles Editor of UCLA Law Review, and clerked in the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. His writings have appeared in Newsweek, the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, the New York Post, and in several Israel-based publications.