Poll shows Clinton trouncing Trump among Jewish voters
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Poll shows Clinton trouncing Trump among Jewish voters

Democratic nominee would defeat GOP rival 61% to just 19% — with both candidates underperforming their recent predecessors

US presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton (AP)
US presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton (AP)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Hillary Clinton trounces Donald Trump among Jewish voters, but underperforms compared to her Democratic predecessors, according to an American Jewish Committee poll that suggests a Jewish community disenchanted with politics and anxious about the country’s future.

The poll released Tuesday shows Clinton defeating Trump 61 percent to 19% among Jewish voters. She beats Trump on a range of issues, notably national security, an area where the Republican nominee hopes to hammer his Democratic rival.

Respondents said Clinton would be better than Trump in handling terrorism (58%-22%), would be more likely to unite the country (55-11), would be more likely to promote US-Israel relations (57-22) and would be more effective in dealing with Iran (58-19).

Trump, whose daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared are Jewish, and who has several top Jewish advisers, has nonetheless alienated much of the Republicans’ traditional Jewish support, in part because of his broadsides against minorities, but also because of an insular foreign policy. He has flirted with notions of neutrality in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and of making Israel pay for the defense assistance it receives from the United States.

Still, the poll shows Clinton not faring as well as her Democratic predecessors, including President Barack Obama, who scored 69% of the Jewish vote in 2012 and 74%-78% in 2008; John Kerry got 76% in 2004; Al Gore 79% in 2000; and her husband, Bill Clinton, 78% in 1996 and 80% in 1992.

Trump is also underperforming significantly compared to his recent Republican predecessors in recent elections, including Mitt Romney (30% in 2012), John McCain (22% in 2008) and George W. Bush (24% in 2004).

A substantial chunk – 17% — of the poll’s 1,002 respondents do not back either candidate, with 6% opting for Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party, 3% backing Jill Stein of the Green Party and 8% saying they will not vote.

Counting only those who plan to vote, Clinton’s share rises to 66% and Trump’s to 21%.

The two candidates are among the most unpopular in US history in general polling, where Clinton leads but with considerably smaller margins than among Jewish voters. The most recent national polling puts the Democrat ahead of her Republican rival by about 5 percentage points.

Reform Jews are likeliest to favor Clinton over Trump, 74% to 10%; Reconstructionists prefer Clinton 71% to 0 for Trump and 15% for Stein; “just Jewish” chooses Clinton over Trump by 60-17; and Conservative Jews favor Clinton over Trump 57-29.

Among Orthodox respondents, as in recent elections, preferences are flipped, with respondents likelier to favor Trump — to a degree. Trump does not do as well with this subset as Clinton does overall. Orthodox respondents favor Trump at 50%, Clinton at 21%, Johnson at 6% and Stein at 1%, with 15% saying they will not vote.

Pessimism and exasperation with politics seem to undergird the polling. More respondents, 39%, say American children will be worse off than their parents than those who say they will be better off, 29%. Those who say they will be the same accounted for 27%.

Asked how much confidence they have in Congress, 60% said they have very little or none, 29% said they have some confidence and just 6% have “quite a lot” or “a great deal.” Most respondents, 54%, said they would vote the straight party line down the ticket on Election Day, although a substantial minority, 39%, said they are ready to vote one party for president but not necessarily the same one for other offices.

Jobs and the economy, as it has in past surveys, remained among the top issues for voters: 29% said it was the most important issue and 22% placed it second. Next was terrorism and national security: 16% of respondents had it as the top issue and 15% as the second.

Asked about anti-Semitism in the United States, 73% said it was somewhat of a problem or a very serious problem, while 26% said it was not much of a problem or not a problem at all. Regarding university campuses, 57% said anti-Semitism was a very serious problem or somewhat of a problem, while 27% said it was not much of a problem or not a problem at all.

The AJC did not poll specifically on Israel as a priority, but it was a rare high note among those polled, with 73% saying US-Israel relations were fairly good or very good compared to 25% saying they were fairly poor or very poor. Asked to respond to the sentiment “Caring about Israel is a very important part of my being a Jew,” 73% agreed strongly or somewhat, while 26% disagreed strongly or somewhat. Asked whether an independent Palestine could exist peacefully alongside Israel, 49% said yes and 20% said no.

Among religious streams, respondents broke down as 34% Reform, 18% Conservative, 9% Orthodox and 2% Reconstructionist. Some one-third, 34%, said they were “just Jewish.”

Asked about the importance of being Jewish in their lives, 79% said it was somewhat or very important, 21% said it was not too important or not important at all.

The poll, which was carried out Aug. 8-28 in phone interviews by the research company SSRS, has a margin of error of 3.57 percentage points.

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