Pew Polling Results: Politics and Jewish Americans

July 9, 2021

Earlier this year, Pew Research Center released the results of an extensive survey of Jewish Americans between November 2019 and June 2020. Overall, the results show that vast majorities of American Jews identify as Democrats, disapprove of right-wing leadership in the US and Israel, and hold genuine fears about rising antisemitism.

The results of the Pew survey largely align with J Street’s repeated election day opinion polls of the Jewish community — which continue to show broad support for Democratic candidates and a two-state solution, as well as clear opposition to Israeli settlements.

American Jews on Israel, Politics, Policy and Antisemitism:

  • Pew found that a significant majority of American Jews (71%) identify as Democrats. A substantial exception is Orthodox Jews, who largely identify as Republican (75%).
  • Most American Jews were not satisfied with former President Donald Trump’s policies toward Israel, with 58% describing it as “poor” or “only fair.” A vast majority (73%) of American Jews disapproved of President Trump’s job performance overall.
  • When it comes to Israel’s government over the past few years, American Jews were similarly dissatisfied. More than half of the survey’s respondents rated former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s job performance as “only fair” (23%) or “poor” (35%). Only a third thought that the Israeli government was making a sincere effort to secure peace in the region.
  • Most respondents (63%) were still optimistic that a way can be found for Israelis and Palestinians to peacefully coexist.
  • A majority (54%) of respondents said US support for Israel is about at the right level, and nearly six-in-ten said they are either very (25%) or somewhat (32%) emotionally attached to Israel.
  • While only 56% of American Jews in the survey had heard of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, those who had were mostly unsupportive, with 43% opposing and just 10% in support.
  • American Jews are sensing a growing trend of antisemitism in the United States. 75% said that there is more antisemitism in America than there was five years ago. Nearly all of those who said there was more antisemitism in America today attributed the rise at least in part to people with antisemitic views feeling freer to express them. Worryingly, more than half of all respondents said that they had experienced at least one form of antisemitism in the past year.
  • While American Jews are seeing antisemitism swell, they are even more likely to see widespread discrimination against other minority groups in the United States. 62% of respondents said there was a lot of discrimination against Muslims in the US, and 55% said there was a lot of discrimination against Blacks, considerably more than the 43% of respondents who said Jews face a lot of discrimination today.
  • The survey also found that most American Jews consider Jewish identity to be tied to more than just Jewish faith. Most respondents identified ancestry and culture as significant parts of their identity, while only 11% said that being Jewish was primarily about religion. Similarly, less than half of US Jews reported that religion was very (21%) or somewhat (26%) important to them, which is considerably less than the numbers for US adults as a whole (41% very, 25% somewhat).
  • The prevalence of a number of traditional Jewish practices and customs varied widely in the survey responses. Nearly two-thirds of Jews said they held or attended a Seder last year, and nearly three-quarters said they often cook or eat traditional Jewish foods. Smaller numbers of respondents reported fasting for Yom Kippur (46%), attending synagogue at least monthly (20%), or keeping kosher at home (17%).

To read the full Pew study, click here >>

To read the results of J Street’s election surveys, click here >>