America’s Jews on the Trump Administration

With the significant influence of the pro-Israel lobby in the United States and Congress doing its best to equate anti-Semitism and the anti-Israel movement, I thought that it would be interesting to see how America's Jewish community feels about the Trump Administration, its agenda for Israel and its support for Israel.  A poll taken on the day that the 2018 mid-term election was held gives us a strong sense of the sentiments of American Jews on issues of importance.

Let's look at the background of the poll which was completed by J Street.  The poll sampled the views of 1,139 Jewish voters with an oversample of voters aged 18 to 34, all of whom voted in the midterm elections.  Of the sample, 35 percent described themselves as Reform, 30 percent stated no particular denomination, 20 percent described themselves as Conservative and ten percent described themselves as Orthodox with the remaining 6 percent describing themselves as Reconstructionist or Other.

Now, let's look at some key questions:

Generally speaking, do you think that things in this country are going in the right direction, or do you feel things have gotten pretty seriously off on the wrong track?

Right track – 26 percent

Wrong track – 74 percent

When asked what issues facing the United States are the most important, here are the results:

Health care – 43 percent 

Gun violence – 28 percent

Social Security and Medicare – 21 percent

The economy – 19 percent

Immigration – 18 percent

The environment – 14 percent

Taxes – 11 percent

Education – 8 percent

The deficit and government spending – 8 percent

The Supreme Court – 8 percent

ISIS and terrorism – 7 percent

Israel – 4 percent

Russia – 3 percent

Iran – 1 percent

Other – 8 percent

I find it interesting, particularly given the amount of attention that Congress and the President pay to Israel, Russia and Iran, that a very small proportion of America's Jews feel that these three issues are important.

Do you approve or disapprove of the way Donald Trump is handling his job as president?

Strongly approve – 13 percent

Somewhat approve – 13 percent

Somewhat disapprove – 10 percent

Strongly disapprove – 64 percent

Do you approve or disapprove of the job Congress is doing?

Strongly approve – 5 percent

Somewhat approve – 16 percent

Somewhat disapprove – 28 percent

Strongly disapprove – 50 percent

With total presidential disapproval of 75 percent and total Congressional disapproval of 79 percent, America's Jewish community has a strong negative impression of the current administration.

Let's now look at the favourability ratings of some people and political organizations with 100 meaning a very warm, favourable feeling and 0 meaning a very cold, unfavourable feeling (i.e. higher favourable and lower unfavourable scores are better):

Given that Jared Kushner is Donald Trump's point man on Middle East and Israel issues, it is interesting to see that he gets an extremely low favourability score when it comes to America's Jewish community.

In closing, let's look at how America's Jewish community feels about key issues facing Israel and the Middle East.  

Do you think Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's policies have helped Israel's relations with the United States, hurt Israel's relations with the United States, or had no impact on Israel's relations with the United States?

Helped – 32 percent

Hurt – 31 percent 

No impact – 35 percent

Don’t know/refused – 2 percent

People often talk about being "pro-Israel." Do you think someone can be critical of Israeli government policies and still be "pro-Israel"?

Yes – 84 percent

No – 16 percent

Do you support or oppose the agreement (the JCPOA) that the United States and other countries made during the Obama Administration to lift economic sanctions against Iran in exchange for Iran dismantling its nuclear weapons program and allowing international inspectors to monitor Iran's facilities?

Strongly support – 28 percent

Somewhat support – 43 percent

Somewhat oppose  – 16 percent

Strongly oppose – 13 percent

Don’t know/refused – 1 percent

As you may know, President Trump withdrew the United States from the nuclear agreement that the United States made with Iran and five other countries. Do you support or oppose Trump's withdrawal from the agreement?

Strongly support – 17 percent

Somewhat support – 16 percent

Somewhat oppose  – 26 percent

Strongly oppose – 41 percent

Don’t know/refused – 1 percent

You will note that America's Jewish community is not a huge fan of Benjamin Netanyahu and that the majority supported the implementation of the JCPOA and are opposed to Donald Trump's withdrawal from the nuclear agreement with Iran.

While the Trump Administration continues to implement policies that they believe play to their Jewish base, outside of the heavy influence of the pro-Israel lobby in Washington, there are actually a relatively small percentage of Jewish Americans that support the Trump agenda for Israel and the greater Middle East.

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