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U.S. Jews' Support for Obama Stabilizes After Two-Year Drop

U.S. Jews' Support for Obama Stabilizes After Two-Year Drop

by Jim Norman
Chart: data points are described in article

Story Highlights

  • Jewish Americans' approval of Obama at 55% for 2015
  • Approval fell by 13 points from late 2012 to late 2014
  • Large splits on Obama approval by education, religiosity

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- After dropping by 13 percentage points between late 2012 and late 2014, President Barack Obama's job approval rating among Jewish Americans improved slightly in 2015. Approval among U.S. Jews averaged 55% in the first half of the year and held at 54% in the second half, for an overall yearly average of 55%.


Obama's approval ratings throughout his presidency have averaged 13 points higher among Jewish Americans than among the general population. The trend in Obama's approval ratings among U.S. Jews largely mirrors his ratings among the general public. Both declined in 2014, and both have since improved, but the rebound has been slightly stronger among U.S. adults overall than among Jewish Americans. As a result, the gap between Jewish Americans and all Americans shrank to below double digits for the first time last year -- to nine points in the first six months and to eight points in the most recent six-month stretch.

Obama's lower standing among Jewish Americans in 2013 and 2014 could reflect tensions between Obama and the Israeli government in recent years. Lukewarm relations between Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu grew increasingly fractious after the U.S. government moved in September 2013 to improve relations with Iran. But despite Netanyahu's controversial appearance before Congress in March and the U.S. role in brokering a nuclear arms deal with Iran, Jewish-American support for Obama stabilized over the past year.

U.S. Jews have long been considered some of the staunchest supporters of the Democratic Party. Since the advent of presidential election exit polls in 1972, the results have shown Jewish Americans favoring Democrats by wide margins in every election. For the five presidential elections from 1992 through 2008, exit polls show that at least 74% said they voted for the Democratic candidate. Obama received 78% of the Jewish vote in 2008, but this fell to 69% in 2012.

Approval Highest Among Liberal, Nonreligious and Educated Jews

While Obama's job approval differs across segments of the Jewish population, he benefits from the fact that he performs best among the largest subgroups: liberal, nonreligious and highly educated Jews. Jewish Americans are disproportionately liberal (41%, compared with 23% of the general population), and 85% of Jewish liberals approve of Obama's job performance. About half of U.S. Jews (51%) are not religious, compared with 31% of all Americans, and Obama's approval rating among nonreligious Jews stands at 65%. More than a third of Jews -- 36% -- have done postgraduate work, compared with 13% of the general population, and Obama has a 63% approval rating among them.

Conversely, Jewish groups giving Obama the lowest approval ratings -- conservatives, those who are "highly religious" and those with no college degree -- are among the smallest segments of the Jewish population.

Outsized Jewish Groups Strongly Support Obama
Obama job approval rating% Subgroup size (percentage of Jewish Americans)%
Liberal 85 41
Moderate 47 34
Conservative 12 22
Democrat 84 48
Independent 40 32
Republican 9 19
Postgraduate work 63 36
College graduate only 56 28
Some college 47 17
No college 42 18
Not religious 65 51
Moderately religious 52 29
Highly religious 34 20
Jan. 2-Dec. 30, 2015
Gallup Daily tracking

Bottom Line

The stabilizing of Obama's job approval rating among Jewish Americans over the past year, with a majority still supporting him, may indicate that the Jewish community in the U.S. has come to terms with the now-finalized Iran nuclear agreement and with Obama's policies in general concerning the Middle East. But while Jewish Americans as a group remain strong supporters of Obama, the gap between his approval among Jews and among the rest of the population has narrowed. At this point, the question becomes whether Obama will regain any ground in his last year in office -- and if not, whether the loss of Jewish support from early 2013 through late 2014 will affect the Jewish vote in this year's presidential election.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Jan. 2-Dec. 30, 2015, on the Gallup U.S. Daily tracking survey, with a random sample of 177,901 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±1 percentage point at the 95% confidence level.

For results based on the total sample of 4,224 Americans who identify their religion as Jewish interviewed Jan. 2-Dec. 30, 2015, the margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.

The margin of sampling error for the sample of 2,148 American Jews interviewed between Jan. 2, 2015, and June 30, 2015, and the margin of sampling error for the sample of 2,076 American Jews interviewed between July 1, 2015, and Dec. 30, 2015, is ±4 percentage points. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.

Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 50% cellphone respondents and 50% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.

Learn more about how Gallup Daily tracking works.

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