October 20, 2019

Poll: L.A. County Jews on Trump, Warren and Anti-Semitism

Shakari Byerly, partner and principal researcher at Evitarus, a public opinion consulting firm, discusses the findings of a new poll on Jewish voters in L.A. County at Wilshire Boulevard Temple. Photo by David Ng

In a survey of 1,812 Jewish voters in Los Angeles County, 70% of those polled “strongly disapprove” of the way President Donald Trump is handling his job and serving the public.

Titled “Surveying Jewish Los Angeles: A Portrait of Engagement,” the poll was conducted from Aug. 7-Sept. 19 by the Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs at Cal State Los Angeles and public opinion research company Evitarus, with 93% of respondents being reached online and the rest by telephone. The margin of error was 2.3%. Respondents were born between 1928 and the early 2000s.

When asked who they would vote for among the Democratic presidential nominees if the 2020 election were held today, 38% said they would vote for Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). Fifteen percent of respondents said they would vote for former Vice President Joe Biden and 14% said they’d vote for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt).

On Oct. 3 at Wilshire Boulevard Temple, Raphael Sonenshein, executive director of the Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs, and Shakari Byerly, partner and principal researcher at Evitarus, presented the findings to reporters, Jewish community professionals and leaders.

The findings, they said, underscored that the overall political leanings of Jewish voters are liberal, while Orthodox Jewish support for Trump and the Republican Party is strong. According to the poll, 70% of Orthodox Jews approve of Trump, particularly his overseeing of the U.S.-Israel relationship.

Raphael Sonenshein, executive director for the Pat Brown Institute (PBI), discusses the findings of the new PBI poll on Jewish voters in L.A. County at Wilshire Boulevard Temple. Photo by David Ng

Overall, 73% of respondents said it is important to them that Israel exists as a Jewish state. Of those, 56% said it was “very important” and 17% said it was “somewhat important.”

Of those polled, 711 identified as Reform, 286 said they were Conservative and 99 identified as Orthodox. Sixty-nine percent said they did not belong to a synagogue.

In a phone interview, Rabbi Susan Goldberg, who formerly served at Wilshire Boulevard Temple and leads Nefesh, a new outreach community, said the finding of low synagogue affiliation revealed that more work needs to be done by Jewish leaders.

“Regardless of ideology, regardless of party, the overwhelming share of L.A. County registered Jewish voters is very, very concerned about what they perceive as rising anti-Semitism.” — Raphael Sonenshein

“I think it’s a high number but also not a surprise. I do think this poll warrants some good discussion inside the Jewish community and inside the organized Jewish community about how we can meet the needs of more of our Jewish community in Los Angeles,” said Goldberg, who attended the poll findings event and helped formulate questions for the survey.

As for the political results, Sonenshein said he was most surprised about support for Warren outweighing that of any other Democratic candidate. He added it was “good news for Elizabeth Warren, but whether that translates into an even bigger base will depend on the ability to win nonwhite voters going forward. ”

Additionally, the poll revealed that an overwhelming majority of L.A. County’s registered Jewish voters are concerned about anti-Semitism, with 75% saying they believe it is a serious problem.

“I think it is a really striking result,” Sonenshein said, explaining that respondents submitted lengthy comments about anti-Semitism. One wrote that anti-Semitism is most serious among the alt-right while another said it is most concerning when manifesting as anti-Israel bias from the left.

“Regardless of ideology, regardless of party,” Sonenshein said, “the overwhelming share of L.A. County registered Jewish voters is very, very concerned about what they perceive as rising anti-Semitism.”

Full survey results are available online.