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American Jews Are Most Concerned About Domestic Political Questions, Not the Middle East, in the 2008 Presidential Race

Allan C. Brownfeld, Editor
Special Interest Report
March - April 2008

Often when political candidates address Jewish forums, they turn their attention to U.S. policy in the Middle East, apparently believing that this is the way to appeal to Jewish voters. The annual survey of American Jewish opinion conducted by the American Jewish Committee, which was released in December, indicates a far different picture.  
According to the survey, the past year saw a decline in the percentage of Jews who feel “very close” to Israel, to 30 percent in 2007 from 37 percent in 2006. The issue most often selected as the most important in choosing a president in 2008 was “the economy and jobs” at 22 percent, in contrast to the war in Iraq, cited by just 16 percent.  
Asked about the issues that will determine their presidential vote this year, a strong plurality of 42 percent picked either “economy and jobs” or “health care,” the two domestic choices offered. By contrast, only 36 percent picked one of the three Middle East-related suggestions, the war in Iraq (16 percent), “terrorism and national security” (14 percent) or “support for Israel” (6 percent).  
Ironically, 15 of the survey’s 38 questions touched on terrorism and Middle East-related issues and another five amplified energy and immigration. The rest involved anti-Semitism, Jewish identity and presidential choices. None touched on economic issues — the very issues most Jewish voters said they care about the most.

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