In battleground states, American Jews prefer Biden over Trump by a wide margin

A pair of surveys of likely Jewish voters in Florida and Pennsylvania shows that former Vice President Joe Biden has a massive lead over Donald Trump.

(RNS) — A pair of surveys of likely Jewish voters in two key battleground states shows that former Vice President Joe Biden has a massive lead over President Donald Trump in the upcoming elections.

The surveys, conducted for J Street, a liberal pro-Israel advocacy group, by GBAO, also suggest Biden is more trusted among American Jews on a host of domestic and foreign issues, including Israel.

In the Pennsylvania survey, 710 potential Jewish voters preferred Biden to Trump, 75% to 22%. In the Florida survey, 600 potential Jewish voters preferred Biden to Trump 73% to 22%. The surveys were conducted Oct. 12-15.

Choice for President. Graphic courtesy of J Street

“The only movement you will find from 2016 and 2018 to today is that Jewish voters are abandoning Donald Trump and moving even more into the Democratic column and into supporting Joe Biden,” said Jeremy Ben-Ami, president of J Street, on a call with reporters Wednesday (Oct. 21). “This is a consistent pattern.”


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The surveys showed the coronavirus was the No. 1 issue on the minds of potential Jewish voters in both states, with health care coming in as the No. 2 issue in Pennsylvania and the economy as No. 2 in Florida.

Israel was at the bottom of Jewish voters’ list of concerns. Only 6% of respondents in Florida rated it the No. 1 issue; and only 4% of Pennsylvania respondents rated it the No. 1 issue.

“Israel is not a decisive issue for most Jewish voters in this country,” Ben-Ami said. “Larger concerns about Donald Trump overwhelm that particular issue.”

Trump famously moved the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, its capital. He is also credited with helping push the Israel-United Arab Emirates peace deal. But among American Jews those issues were not enough to overcome Trump’s domestic policy agenda, which many American Jews opposed.

The surveys asked American Jews if someone could “be critical of Israeli government policies and still be ‘pro-Israel.’” In Pennsylvania 87% said yes, and in Florida, 89%.

Choice for President By Denomination (Florida). Graphic courtesy of J Street

Within the Jewish community, Trump’s support mainly lies with Orthodox Jews and particularly Haredi Jews, who comprise about 10% of the overall American Jewish population. In Florida, 62% of Orthodox Jews said they planned to vote for Trump, and in Pennsylvania, 49% of Orthodox Jews said they would vote for Trump.

The AJC’s national survey of American Jews, also released this week, showed nearly identical results, with Jews preferring Biden to Trump 75% to 22%.

Jim Gerstein, founding partner of GBAO, said the Pennsylvania and Florida surveys suggest  Jewish voters may back Biden in even higher numbers than they did Hillary Clinton.

“We saw a similar dynamic in 2018 in the midterm elections, where the performance for Democratic candidates among Jews was higher than it had been for Hillary Clinton in 2016,” said Gerstein. “There’s definitely something going on there.”

The Pennsylvania survey had a margin of error of plus/minus 3.7 percentage points. The Florida survey had a margin of error of plus/minus 4 percentage points.