Hillary Clinton trounces Donald Trump among Jewish voters, but underperforms compared to her Democratic predecessors, according to an American Jewish Committee poll that depicts 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 percent 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 percent), would be more likely to unite the country (55-11 percent), would be more likely to promote U.S.-Israel relations (57-22 percent) and would be more effective in dealing with Iran (58-19 percent).
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 percent of the Jewish vote in 2012 and 74-78 percent in 2008; John Kerry at 76 percent in 2004; Al Gore with 79 percent in 2000; and her husband, Bill Clinton, with 78 percent in 1996 and 80 percent in 1992.
Trump is also underperforming significantly compared to his recent Republican predecessors in recent elections, including Mitt Romney (30 percent in 2012), John McCain (22 percent in 2008) and George W. Bush (24 percent in 2004).
A substantial chunk — 17 percent — of the AJC poll’s 1,002 respondents do not back either candidate, with 6 percent opting for Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party, 3 percent backing Jill Stein of the Green Party and 8 percent saying they will not vote.
Ken Bandler, an AJC spokesman, said the option to declare that one did not intend to vote was included because of widespread disaffection in this election. AJC polls previously did not include the option.
Counting only those who plan to vote, Clinton’s share rises to 66 percent and Trump’s to 21.
The two candidates are among the most unpopular in U.S. 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 percent to 10 percent; Reconstructionists prefer Clinton 71 percent to 0 percent for Trump and 15 percent for Stein; “just Jewish” chooses Clinton over Trump, 60 to 17 percent; and Conservative Jews favor Clinton over Trump, 57-29 percent.
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 percent, Clinton at 21 percent, Johnson at 6 percent and Stein at 1 percent, with 15 percent saying they will not vote.
Pessimism and exasperation with politics seem to undergird the polling. More respondents, 39 percent, say American children will be worse off than their parents than those who say they will be better off, 29 percent. Those who say they would be the same are at 27 percent.
Asked how much confidence they have in Congress, 60 percent said they have very little or none, 29 percent said they have some confidence and just 6 percent have “quite a lot” or “a great deal.” Most respondents, 54 percent, said they would vote the straight party line down the ticket on Election Day, although a substantial minority, 39 percent, 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 such surveys, remained among the top issues for voters: 29 percent said it was the most important and 22 percent placed it second. Next was terrorism and national security: 16 percent of respondents had it as the top issue and 15 percent as the second most important.
Asked about anti-Semitism in the United States, 73 percent said it was somewhat of a problem or a very serious problem, while 26 percent said it was not much of a problem or not a problem at all. Regarding university campuses, 57 percent said anti-Semitism was a very serious problem or somewhat of a problem, while 27 percent 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 percent saying U.S.-Israel relations were fairly good or very good compared to 25 percent 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 percent agreed strongly or somewhat, while 26 percent disagreed strongly or somewhat. Asked whether an independent Palestine could exist peacefully alongside Israel, 49 percent said yes and 20 percent said no.
Among religious streams, respondents broke down as 34 percent Reform, 18 percent Conservative, 9 percent Orthodox and 2 percent Reconstructionist. Thirty-four percent said they were “just Jewish.”
Asked the importance of being Jewish in their life, 79 percent said it was somewhat or very important, 21 percent 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.
— JTA News and Features