Despite the successes of the Republican party in these mid-term elections resulting in Republican majorities in both the House and Senate, polls suggest that American Jews (representing 2-3% of the voting public) have not shifted in our attitudes and policy preferences over the last three congressional elections.
I participated today in a national J Street conference call featuring the Founder and President of J Street, Jeremy Ben-Ami, J Street’s Political Director, Dan Kalik, and Jim Gersten, a well-known and veteran pollster who conducted surveys on election night with 800 representative American Jews.
The following points were made:
1. The American Jewish vote is still a rock-solid Democratic constituency. 70% of American Jews voted for Democrats suggesting that efforts by those on the political right to score points by continually attacking President Obama in his relationship with the State of Israel did not resonate with Jewish voters.
2. 84% of American Jews support a reasonable deal with Iran in current discussions that would permit Iran to have use of nuclear power for civilian purposes as well as continual in-depth international inspection of Iranian nuclear sites.
3. 80% of the American Jewish community supports a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict in theory. 77% support a two-state solution when details of an agreement are spelled out.
4. 57% of the American Jewish community gives President Obama a positive approval rating, 16% greater than the American community as a whole. American Jews give the Republican Congress 18% approval and Republicans a 71% unfavorable rating.
5. 85% of American Jews support active United States involvement in seeking an Israeli-Palestinian two state solution. 72% of American Jews support the US publicly disagreeing with Israeli and Palestinian positions. However, if the US would publicly disagree only with Israel, 48% would approve as opposed to 52% who would disapprove, suggesting that American Jews do not like Israel being singled out unfairly for criticism.
6. 80% of American Jews still support a 2 state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict despite this summer’s Gaza War.
The three panelists were asked what they thought President Obama would now do relative to foreign affairs having lost both houses of Congress. They reasoned that little will be done on the domestic front, but as other past presidents have focused much of their time on foreign affairs in their final two years in office, they expect the Administration to do the same.
Despite the current tensions between Israel and the Palestinians, a chief concern of the Obama Administration has always been that solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict serves American interests in the Middle East. It is very possible, therefore, that the President will re-launch a new peace effort, despite well-known personal antipathy between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu.
7. 53% of the American Jewish voting public favors Prime Minister Netanyahu, about the same as we favor President Obama.
8. When asked if Bibi’s policies have helped or hurt the US-American strategic relationship, 21% of American Jews say that it has not hurt the relationship; 40% say it has harmed the relationship; and 40% say it has had no effect. [Note: The figure that 40% believe that Bibi’s policies and treatment of President Obama have hurt the US-Israeli relationship is stunning in the history of American Israeli history. These statistics suggest that whereas American Jews respect the office of the Israeli Prime Minister, we do not necessarily respect his views, policies and behavior towards the American Administration.
In this election, J Street endorsed 95 candidates for the House and Senate and raised $2.4 million for races representing by far the largest single source of pro-Israel funds in the nation’s capital. Of the 95 races, 77 J Street endorsed candidates won their contests including both Democrats and Republicans. Candidates endorsed by J Street agree to advocate for a strong US-Israeli relationship and American engagement in advocating for a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.
A concluding thought: For Democrats, a certain amount of despair has accompanied this mid-term election. That being said, the results may be the very impetus the President needs to achieve foreign policy goals that include Iran, ISIS, Ukraine, and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. If that is the case, then this mid-term will not have had a negative effect on achieving important American foreign policy goals.
For all the polling data, see J Street’s website home page http://www.jstreet.org and follow links.