Seventy percent of Jewish-American voters supported President Obama last night. That’s according to a poll published today by “pro-Israel, pro-peace” group J Street. The poll, administered by Jim Gerstein, a veteran pollster of Gerstein Bocian Agne Strategies, also found that Jewish-American voters overwhelmingly supported Obama on Iran: 58 percent sided with the President on this issue as opposed to 26 percent with Mitt Romney. Furthermore, 53 percent of Jewish-American voters supported Obama’s on Israel; as opposed to Romney’s 31 percent. The poll results indicate that the millions spent on ads in swing states like Florida that attacked the Obama administration for his handling of Israel and Iran failed to make a difference.
Indeed, according to Gerstein, Obama’s numbers among Jewish-American voters are in line with the “average received by Democratic candidates since exit polling began in 1972.” Gerstein himself added that the poll results make the point clear: Jewish-American voters “won’t be swayed by the latest campaign or attack.” In fact, 78 percent of Jewish-American voters who saw ads that “criticized President Obama for his positions or actions toward Israel” were either “more likely to support” the President or said that the ads “made no difference” in who they were going to vote for. Only 23 percent of Jewish-Americans said the ads made them “more likely to support Mitt Romney.”
When it came to attacks, the Romney campaign tried all angles. Romney famously went after the president for having “thrown allies like Israel under the bus.” He added to his criticism at the foreign policy debate in October, where he said there was “turmoil with Israel.” Romney’s running mate Paul Ryan jumped on the issue as well, at one point describing President Obama’s treatment of Israel as “indifference bordering on contempt.” In September, Romney backer and wealthy casino mogul Sheldon Adelson started spending, according to the New York Times, “$6.5 million on an air-and-ground strategy to reach Jewish voters who may view Mr. Obama as unreliable on the question of Israel’s security.” The same September Times article found that Florida was “where the largest share of the $6.5 million is being spent.” But it seems Adelson’s money had little impact; in Florida, President Obama beat Mitt Romney on the issue of Israel by 32 percentage points and on the issue of Iran by 27 percentage points.
In the end, it wasn’t just the issue of Israel that turned Jewish-American voters against Mitt Romney and toward President Obama. On economic issues like Medicare and Social Security, the president held comfortable double-digit leads; similarly, in swing states like Florida, the president achieved a significant amount of support from Jewish-American voters on economic and foreign policy related issues.
According to Gerstein, “only 10 percent cited Israel as one of its
two most important issues.” In a press release on the results, Gerstein adds that “notably, the least important issue for Jewish voters was Iran (2 percent).”