Donald Trump. Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images.

Donald Trump’s approval rating among US Jews is 31 percent, Gallup finds


President Donald Trump’s approval rating among Jews in the United States is 31 percent.

That is more than 11 percent lower than the president’s overall approval rating of 42 percent, according to a Gallup poll taken from Jan. 20, the day Trump was sworn in, to March 15.

Gallup points out that Jews appear to be reacting to Trump along party lines. Some 64 percent of Jews identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party, according to data from the same time period, and 29 percent identify with or lean toward the Republican Party.

Gallup also points out that Trump has sent “mixed signals to American Jews about their position in the country and his administration’s stance toward Israel.” Among the issues was being slow to denounce a pronounced wave of anti-Semitism and failing to mention Jews in the administration’s Holocaust Remembrance Day statement, as well as appointing a pro-settlements ambassador to Israel but then calling on Israel to “hold off” on building in settlements.

Trump has a “significant opportunity to boost his image among Jews, Americans and the world,” Gallup reports.”During the campaign, Trump talked about using his negotiating skills, and those of [his Jewish son-in-law Jared] Kushner, to reach a peace deal between the Israelis and Palestinians. If Trump accomplishes what his predecessors could not by negotiating a peace deal, this could certainly affect his approval rating not only among American Jews but among all national adults.”

Gallup: Jews favor Clinton over Trump, 52-23 percent


Jewish voters favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump 52 to 23 percent, according to poll tracking by Gallup.

The only religious group showing stronger favorability ratings for the Democratic nominee in data collected from July 1-Aug. 28 is Muslims, who favor Clinton over Trump 64 to 9 percent, according to the analysis posted Tuesday by Gallup.

Jews tend to favor the Democratic nominee by 10-15 points more than the general population, and this polling is no different; Gallup’s latest general population favorability ratings, for the week Aug. 24-30, show Clinton at 39 percent and Trump, the Republican nominee, at 33.

Clinton also fares better than Trump among Catholics, 45-33, other non-Christian religions, 48-18 and atheist/agnostic, 44-19.

Trump fares better than Clinton among only two religious groups listed by Gallup, Protestants and other Christians, 40 to 35, and Mormons, 33-16.

Trump has come under fire for his broadsides against Muslims and other minorities. His expressions of antipathy toward Mexicans likely also hurt him among Catholics; Trump earns 44 percent approval to Clinton’s 34 percent among non-Hispanic Catholics, but scores 12 percent to Clinton’s 67 percent among Hispanic Catholics.

Gallup in an email to JTA said the margin of error for the Jewish sample was 5 percentage points and for the Muslim sample, 7.5 percentage points. There were 689 Jewish respondents and 168 Muslim respondents.

A recent poll of Florida Jews carried out by a polling firm close to J Street, the liberal Jewish Middle East policy group, found that 66 percent of Jews said they would vote for Clinton over 23 percent for Trump. Only Orthodox Jews as a group favored Trump over Clinton, by a margin of 3-1.

The Florida question, however, was phrased differently, asking respondents whom they would vote for, and not whom they favored, as in the Gallup survey.

Is campaign news necessary?


Last week, Gallup asked Americans if they were watching news about the presidential campaign “very closely.” Four out of 10 said yes. I’m one of them.  That’s crazy. Are you one of them? That’s crazy, too.

There are plenty of high-minded reasons to follow campaign news. It informs us about the issues. It educates us about the candidates. It makes our choices meaningful. It makes us a polity, not puppets. It honors the blood spilled to secure the freedom of the candidates to speak, of the press to cover them and of the people to vote for them.

But does that describe the campaign news you’re consuming? Ninety-one percent of U.S. adults told the Pew Research Center they learned something about the presidential election in the past week. Just 2 percent of them – 2 percent! – said a national newspaper was their most helpful source of campaign information. Maybe they got issues and analysis. But the 24 percent who said cable news was their most helpful source of information? The 14 percent who said local TV news? The 14 percent who said social media? I’m not saying they got nothing civically nutritious. But judging from the hours I waste on campaign news, the word I’d use for what I get from it isn’t information – it’s entertainment.

Great entertainment, actually. Half the adults in the presidential debate audience, and six out of 10 under 30, told Pew the debates were “fun to watch.” You couldn’t want more entertaining characters than Trump, Cruz, Clinton, Sanders, Carson, Christie et al. The story has been riveting, full of shock and suspense, and the stakes just keep on rising. What fresh hell is next? What vile version of “Little Marco” or “Lyin’ Ted” will Trump unleash on Clinton, as he told Maureen Dowd he will? Will party maneuvers to prevent Trump’s nomination cause riots at the Cleveland convention, as he predicted on CNN? Will Trump leverage the chaos and violence he provokes and condones in order to present himself as the law-and-order strongman that Americans will be clamoring for? No wonder we can’t look away – we might get to see someone killed.

With that much drama, it’s understandable that campaign news is as good a binge-watch as “Breaking Bad.” But if I’m glued to Netflix, I don’t try to tell myself that what I’m hooked on is necessary, important, that it makes me a better citizen. It’s just fun. But cable news, the Sunday morning shows, the rabbit hole of blogs I keep falling down: they’re meant to inform me, to make my opinions more sound, my views more valuable, my predictions more credible. It pains me to say it, because I’ve blown so much time doing it, but a lot of that is wishful thinking.  At best, all that intake makes me a classier gossip.  At worst, it gives me night terrors.

From the media I take in, I know a dozen scenarios for Trump, Cruz or Ryan to win or lose the nomination or the election. I know the difference between the Sanders and the Clinton college affordability plans. I can handicap the veepstakes for both tickets. Who cares? A year from now, what possible difference will knowing any of that make? What difference does it even make today?

I’ll never get back the hours I spent paying attention to Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain, not to mention Carly Fiorina and Ben Carson. What I know about Eric Cantor and John Edwards is a waste of good neurons. I didn’t miss a single minute of Clarence Thomas’ confirmation hearings, or Bill Clinton’s impeachment. They got my blood boiling; they were lurid beyond belief, and I was convinced I had an intellectual responsibility and patriotic obligation to witness every moment of that history. But if instead I’d spent that time doing yoga, perfecting my ratatouille or cleaning my gutters, I wouldn’t have been a lesser citizen. I watched every one of President Obama’s State of the Union addresses, each promoted as once-in-a-lifetime TV, but unless I cheat, I can’t now recall a phrase from any of them, and I’d be hard pressed to name a single consequential thing in his presidency, let alone in American history, that would have been different if he’d spent those eight nights helping Sasha and Malia with their homework. That’s not a knock on Obama’s eloquence or his agenda; it’s about how ephemeral spectacle is and how often “breaking news” deserves the amnesia that befalls it.

Of course we need news. Ignorance is worse than infotainment. Lies require refutation. Investigative reporting is expensive and essential. Though the New York Times has sometimes been unfair to Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, its political coverage remains competitive with the best political journalism in the world. Sites like Vox and FiveThirtyEight; writers like Elizabeth Drew and Jim Fallows; bloggers like Matt Taibi and Charlie Pierce; satirists like John Oliver and Samantha Bee; explainers like Rachel Maddow and Amy Goodman: they do make me smarter, and they show how Donald Trump gamed journalistic dysfunction to bring us to the brink of fascism.

But knowing that won’t stop Trump or elect anyone else.  The impact of the $2 billion of free media that TV executives gave Trump swamps all the news and all the ads of all the other candidates. Worse, it swamps the rest of the news. The U.S. is at serious risk of another financial meltdown, but when a president of the Federal Reserve Bank sounds that alarm, it’s a one-day story. Sixty million refugees are on the march – more than at any other time in history – but it’s Trump’s feud with Megyn Kelly that gets the tweets and clicks.  The size of the polar ice caps is getting less airtime than the size of Trump’s junk.

I have a professional excuse to follow campaign coverage closely: I write about it. But even if what I wrote about were horticulture or basketball, I’d still be obsessed by political news.  I can forgive myself for being hooked on 2016’s slimy top reality show. But to confuse having fun with having a democracy – that’s crazy.


Marty Kaplan is the Norman Lear professor of entertainment, media and society at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Reach him at martyk@jewishjournal.com.

Poll: Americans more apt to back Jewish candidates than evangelicals, Muslims or atheists


Ninety-one percent of Americans said they would vote for a presidential candidate who is Jewish, according to a new poll.

The Gallup poll of recent voting preferences released Monday showed that 73 percent of Americans would support an evangelical Christian for president, while 60 percent would back a Muslim and 58 percent an atheist.

The latest results on voting for a Jewish candidate matched those from June 2012. When the question about religion was first asked in 1937, less than half of Americans said they would vote for a Jewish candidate.

In addition to asking about religions, the poll, which was conducted via telephone interviews from June 2 to 7, asked the 1,527 participants aged 18 and older about their willingness to vote for gay or lesbian, African-American, Latino, female and socialist presidential candidates. Ninety-two percent said they would vote for an African-American and/or a woman and 74 percent a gay or lesbian. Forty-seven percent said they would consider voting for a socialist.

Both Democrats (92 percent) and Republicans (95 percent) expressed willingness to vote for a Jewish candidate, but they differed in their willingness to vote for candidates of various other faiths. Among Republicans, 84 percent said they would vote for an evangelical, compared to 66 percent of Democrats, and more Democrats were willing to vote for a Muslim (73 percent) than Republicans (45 percent). Some 64 percent of Democrats would vote for an atheist, compared to 45 percent of Republicans.

Considerably higher percentages of Democrats than Republicans — 85 percent compared to 61 percent — would vote for a gay or lesbian.

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont is the only announced Jewish candidate in the 2016 presidential race. Although Sanders, who is seeking the Democratic nomination, is independent, he has described himself as a democratic socialist and speaks out frequently against income inequality.

The survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points. Respondents came from all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Poll shows gap between Republicans and Democrats in backing Israel in Gaza


A CNN poll showed a considerable gap between Republicans and Democrats when it comes to backing Israel in the current Gaza conflict.

In the CNN poll published Monday, respondents were asked whether “Israel was justified or unjustified in taking military action against Hamas and the Palestinians in the area known as Gaza.” Among Democrats, 40 percent said Israel was “justified,” compared to 74 percent of Republicans and 59 percent of independents.

In all, 57 percent of those polled said Israel was justified in launching the operation in the Gaza Strip. The poll, carried out by ORC International in 1,023 phone interviews from Nov. 16 to Nov. 18, has a margin of error of 3 percentage points.

Israel launched air and naval attacks on Gaza on Nov. 14 after an intensfication of rocket fire from Gaza, which is controlled by Hamas.

Meanwhile in a Gallup poll, Americans cited keeping Iran from developing a nuclear weapon among the top three priorities of President Obama's second term.

Gallup asked respondents to rank 12 issues as “extremely,” “very,” “somewhat,” “not too,” and “not at all” important.

The top three ranked were taking “major steps to restore a strong economy and job market,” with 95 percent of respondents ranking it as “extremely” or “very” important; taking “major steps to ensure the long-term stability of Social Security and Medicare,” ranked “extremely” or “very” important by 88 percent of respondents; and preventing “Iran from developing a nuclear weapon,” cited by 79 percent of respondents as “extremely” or “very” important.

The rankings broke the same when respondents were identified as Democrats, Republicans and Independent, although the numbers were slightly different.

Gallup polled 1,009 adults by phone Nov. 9-12. The results have a margin of error of 4 percentage points.