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Among Religious Groups, Jewish Americans Most Strongly Oppose War

Among Religious Groups, Jewish Americans Most Strongly Oppose War


PRINCETON, NJ -- An analysis of Gallup Poll data collected since the beginning of 2005 finds that among the major religious groups in the United States, Jewish Americans are the most strongly opposed to the Iraq war. Catholics and Protestants are more or less divided in their views on the war, while Mormons are the most likely to favor it. Those with no religious affiliation also oppose the war, but not to the same extent that Jewish people do. The greater opposition to the war is not simply a result of high Democratic identification among U.S. Jews, as Jews of all political persuasions are more likely to oppose the war than non-Jews who share the same political leanings.

For this analysis, Gallup combined 13 surveys from the last two-plus years that measured both support for the Iraq war (using Gallup's "mistake for the U.S. to send troops to Iraq" question) and respondent religious affiliation, for a combined sample of more than 12,000 interviews. Across the time period these 13 surveys covered, an average of 52% of Americans opposed the war by saying the United States made a mistake to invade Iraq, and 46% favored the war by saying it did not make a mistake. 

The table shows how Iraq war support breaks down among the religious groups for which there are sufficiently large sample sizes to provide stable estimates. 

United States Made a Mistake in Sending Troops to Iraq, by Religious Affiliation,
2005-2007 Gallup Polls

Religious Preference

a mistake

not a mistake

Sample size



All Americans











Non-black Protestants




Black Protestants
















No religion




Of these major religious groups, three show more opposition than support for the war:

  • Jewish people oppose the Iraq war by a better than 3-to-1 margin, 77% to 21%. 
  • Americans without a religious preference are twice as likely to oppose (66%) as to support (33%) the war. 
  • Catholics are somewhat more likely to oppose (53%) than to support the war (46%). 

On the other hand, Mormons and Protestants show more support than opposition to the war. Mormons are strongly in favor, as just 27% term the war "a mistake." Overall, Protestants are divided, with 48% opposed and 49% in favor. But black Protestants and non-black Protestants diverge in their views. Black Protestants -- who are overwhelmingly Democratic -- show strong opposition to the war, while among non-black Protestants, support for the Iraq war surpasses the majority level (55% say the war was not a mistake). 

As has been well-established, war support is strongly influenced by one's political leanings -- Democrats overwhelmingly oppose the war while Republicans favor it by a similarly wide margin. One might assume that the greater war opposition among Jews is attributable to the group being overwhelmingly Democratic.  In this sample, 52% of Jewish people identify as Democrats, and another 20% are independents who say they lean to the Democratic Party. 

But a closer analysis of the data show that Jewish war opposition goes beyond their basic political leanings. Jewish people are more likely to oppose the war than non-Jews of the same political persuasion. For example, 89% of Jewish Democrats oppose the Iraq war, compared with 78% of all non-Jewish Democrats. 

The departures are even greater when looking at non-Democrats. Sixty-five percent of non-Democratic Jews oppose the war, compared with just 38% of non-Democrats of all other religious groups. Despite the limited sample size of non-Democratic Jews, the size of the difference is so large that it is still statistically significant. 

The role of pro-Israel groups in forming U.S. policy toward Iraq was controversial even before the invasion in March 2003. Some critics have suggested that influential Jewish advisers and groups pushed the Bush administration to go to war with Iraq in order to help Israel. The Bush administration and leaders of the Jewish community have strongly rejected those suggestions. These data show that the average American Jew -- even those who are Republicans and may support the Bush administration on other matters -- opposes the war.     

The widespread Jewish opposition to the war in Iraq is not a recent development as the majority of all Americans have come to oppose the war in the past two years. Even in 2003 and 2004, when more Americans favored (52%) than opposed the war (46%), 6 in 10 Jews (61%) were opposed to it. 

And during the run-up to the war in late 2002 and early 2003, U.S. Jews were divided in their views on whether to invade Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein from power (49% were in favor, 48% opposed). At that time, Americans overall favored an invasion by a 57% to 37% margin. 

It is unclear why Jewish Americans show such strong opposition to the war. One possibility is that U.S. Jews may hold more liberal outlooks than members of other religious groups on a variety of issues, such as abortion, civil rights, and matters of war and peace. As such, Jews may be less likely than others to favor U.S. military action in general -- regardless of where it takes place.

Survey Methods

These results are based on telephone interviews with a randomly selected national sample of 12,061 adults, aged 18 and older, conducted in 2005-2007. For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum error attributable to sampling and other random effects is ±1 percentage point. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

For results based on the sample of 6,747 Protestants, the maximum margin of sampling error is ±1 percentage point.

For results based on the sample of 2,896 Catholics, the maximum margin of sampling error is ±2 percentage points.

For results based on the sample of 303 Jews, the maximum margin of sampling error is ±6 percentage points.

For results based on the sample of 203 Mormons, the maximum margin of sampling error is ±8 percentage points.

For results based on the sample of 1,242 adults with no religious preference, the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points.

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