An overwhelming majority of American Jews voted for Joe Biden and the Democratic Party in the 2020 election, decisively rejecting appeals for their support from Donald Trump and handing Republicans their worst presidential election performance with Jewish voters since 2008, according to a new poll.
The Election Night poll, conducted by GBAO Strategies and commissioned by the pro-Israel, pro-peace advocacy group J Street, found that Jewish voters supported Biden over Trump 77-21, a 56-point margin that significantly surpassed Hillary Clinton’s +45 point advantage with the Jewish community in 2016. In congressional races, they supported Democratic candidates 78-21. The overall favorability of the Republican Party among Jews has fallen to -59, down 11 points from 2016.
“In this historically pivotal election, Jewish voters have just totally repudiated Donald Trump and a Republican Party that has catered to the most far-right, xenophobic elements of the country,” said J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami. “While Trump touted an ‘exodus’ of Jews from the Democratic Party, the only exodus we saw here was Republicans losing a significant chunk of their already small number of Jewish supporters. A strategy built on the myth that Jewish votes can be won with hawkish Israel policy is bound to fail when over and over again American Jews have demonstrated that they are among the most progressive voters in the American electorate, with views on Israel that are pro-diplomacy and pro-peace.”
American Jews listed their top voting priorities as the coronavirus pandemic (54%), climate change (26%), healthcare (25%) and the economy (23%). Just 5% listed Israel as one of their top two voting issues, down from 9% in 2016.
While Israel was not a top priority for all but a very small minority of voters, the poll also found that Jewish voters’ preferences on foreign policy issues are completely out of step with the right-wing policies pursued by President Trump. A strong majority supported rejoining the Iran nuclear agreement (74%), which the president withdrew from and has relentlessly disparaged. Large majorities also supported a comprehensive two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict (75%) and believe that the US should exert pressure on both Israelis and Palestinians to make the compromises needed to achieve peace (77%). 57% say that they favor maintaining current levels of US military aid to Israel while restricting such aid so that none of it can be spent on West Bank annexation.
“The 2020 election reinforces long-standing dynamics in the Jewish community, and potentially locks in these dynamics in the aftermath of a President and Republican enablers who Jews found abhorrent,” said pollster Jim Gerstein. “Jewish voters continue to overwhelmingly support Democratic candidates, even-handed U.S. engagement in efforts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a 2-state solution and a return to Obama-era policies such as the Iran nuclear agreement.”
Jewish voters continue to overwhelmingly believe that someone can be both pro-Israel and critical of Israeli government policies (92%), and Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu is now highly unpopular with the community. Netanyahu’s favorability has fallen precipitously to -30, a steep decline from +30 in 2014 to +12 in 2016 and +3 in 2018. A large majority of Jewish voters also believe that Israel should suspend some or all settlement construction in the West Bank (82%).
GBAO designed the questionnaire for this national survey of American Jews who voted in the 2020 general election. The survey was conducted October 30-November 3, 2020, and included interviews with 800 self-identified Jewish voters who cast their ballots on Election Day or prior to Election Day. The survey is subject to a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level. The survey sample was drawn from a national voter file, consisting of all registered voters in the United States. Respondents with a likelihood of being Jewish based on their name or geography were contacted by text, and then took the survey on their phone or computer. At the beginning of the survey, respondents were asked whether they consider themselves Jewish, using the same question wording as the 2013 Pew Research Center’s study, “A Portrait of Jewish Americans.”