October 19, 2020 — New York, N.Y.
The 2020 American Jewish Committee (AJC) survey of Jews in the United States regarding the upcoming elections shows that 75% would choose former Vice President Joe Biden and 22% President Donald Trump. In 2016, 16% voted for Trump and 62% for Hillary Clinton, while 7% chose another candidate and 14% did not vote.
The AJC survey is the most comprehensive Jewish organization poll of Jews in the United States. The survey of 1,334 American Jews, ages 18 or older, was conducted by SSRS via telephone from September 9 to October 4, with a margin of error for the total sample of plus or minus 4.2%.
American Jews were asked about the most important issue in deciding how to vote, which candidate would do a better job on key issues facing the U.S., as well as questions regarding U.S.-Israel relations and prospects for peace between Israel and the Arab world, and between Israel and the Palestinians.
As in prior election year AJC surveys, there is a pronounced division of opinion by Jewish religious affiliation, in addition to political party connection. Asked about party affiliation, 53% identified as Democrats, 14% as Republicans, and 25% as Independents.
Trump is preferred by 74% of Orthodox, 23% of Conservative, 20% of Reform, 3% of Reconstructionist, and 14% of Secular Jews. Biden is the choice of 18% of Orthodox, 72% of Conservative, 78% of Reform, 93% of Reconstructionist, and 83% of Secular Jews.
Vice President Biden’s share of the Jewish vote mirrors the degree of dissatisfaction the survey uncovered about President Trump’s performance in office. Seventy-seven percent of the respondents disapproved of the job the president is doing, 73% “strongly,” as compared to 22% who approved, 15% “strongly.”
The difference between Orthodox and other affiliated Jews in viewing how well the president is doing his job is clear. 75% of Orthodox, 24% of Conservative, 20% of Reform, 4% of Reconstructionist, and 15% of Secular Jews approve of President Trump’s performance. Those who disapprove are 25% of Orthodox, 76% of Conservative, 80% of Reform, 96% of Reconstructionist, and 85% of Secular Jews.
For American Jewish voters, the most important issue in deciding for whom to cast a ballot for president is the COVID-19 pandemic (26%), with others prioritizing health care (17%), the economy (13%), race relations (12%), crime (6%), foreign policy (5%), or another issue (20%).
Health care was chosen as the second most important issue by 20%, followed by COVID-19 (18%), race relations (17%), economy (16%), foreign policy (11%), crime (5%), or some other issue (12%).
By wide margins, American Jews believe that if elected president Joe Biden would handle several key issues facing the U.S. today better than President Trump, including the COVID-19 pandemic (78% vs. 19%), combatting terrorism (71% vs. 26%), and antisemitism in the U.S. (75% vs. 22%). The difference was narrower in those who believe that Biden would be better suited to strengthen U.S.-Israel relations (54% vs. 42%)
On the U.S.-Israel relationship today, 86% of respondents characterize it as strong, with 33% who say very strong, and 12% weak. Republicans (68%) are more likely than Independents (35%) or Democrats (22%) to say U.S.-Israel relations are very strong.
Recent efforts to establish relations between Israel and Arab countries apparently have had some influence on American Jews’ optimism. Nearly two in five (37%) say they are more optimistic than they were a year ago about peace between Israel and the Arab world. Forty-nine percent say their views haven’t changed much, while 13% say they are less optimistic about peace between Israel and the Arab world.
Republicans (77%) are more likely than Independents (45%) or Democrats (21%) to say they are more optimistic about peace with the Arab world.
On the prospects for Israeli-Palestinian peace, 55% of American Jews say their views have not changed, while 28% say they are less optimistic, and 16% say they are more optimistic than a year ago. Republicans (43%) are more likely than Independents (18%) or Democrats (7%) to say they are more optimistic about peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
The full AJC survey of American Jews on the 2020 U.S. Elections is available at AJC.org/JewishOpinionSurvey2020.