Campaign Confidential

National, Fla. Polls Show Obama Gaining Support Among Jewish Voters

By Brett Lieberman

It’s a little early for Barack Obama’s campaign to breath a sigh of relief and say a few Amens, but two new polls of Jewish voters offer some good news for the Democratic presidential nominee.

An analysis by Gallup based on its daily tracking poll and interviews with more than 500 Jewish voters shows that Jewish voters have grown much more comfortable with Obama.

It found that 74 percent of Jewish voters now support Obama. That’s a tad lower than what exit polls showed John Kerry and Al Gore won in 2004 and 2000, but it’s shows huge gains for Obama in the last few months.

A Quinnipiac University poll of 1,433 Florida voters shows Obama leading Republican John McCain by a 77 percent to 20 percent margin among Jewish voters included in a survey.

One note of caution in the Q-Poll numbers – the Jewish sample survey carries a whopping 10.5 percent margin of error because of the small sample of Jews in the larger survey, which had a 2.6 percent margin of error. Given their methodology, Quinnipiac pollsters, however, believe the number is probably pretty close to accurate despite the large potential margin of error.

Jewish support for Obama has risen gradually from the low 60 percent range in June and July to 66 percent in August, 69 percent in September, and now 74 percent, according to Gallup.

With just under two weeks until the Nov. 4 election, “The current proportion of U.S. Jews backing Obama is identical to the level of support the Democratic ticket of John Kerry and John Edwards received in the 2004 presidential election (74%),” and “It is only slightly lower than what Al Gore and Joe Lieberman received in 2000 (80%) – when the first Jewish American appeared on the presidential ticket of a major party,” according to Gallup.

And while there has been much concern about a generational divide and the potential of bigotry that could keep some older Jews from supporting Obama, or cause them to vote for Republican John McCain, Gallup reports that “support for Obama is a bit higher among older Jews than among Jews younger than 55.”


Kirk Pollster Disputes Daily Kos Poll Showing Incumbent Vulnerable

By Brett Lieberman

UPDATED:

Congressman Mark Kirk’s pollster is calling a poll commissioned by the liberal Daily Kos blog flawed.

The poll of the district with a large bloc of Jewish voters north of Chicago showed Kirk, A Republican, leading Democrat Dan Seals 44 percent to 38 percent among 400 voters surveyed. The poll had a 5 percent margin of error.

McLaughlin & Associates argues the poll of Illinois’ 10th Congressional District by Research 2000 over-sampled voters age 18-29, Democrats and Independents, while under-sampling Republicans. The poll was also conducted Sept. 30-Oct. 1, which included Rosh Hashanah, when observant Jews would not take part. McLaughlin claims this hurt Kirk, but Kos claims Seals’ support would have been even stronger had those voters been sampled.

Here’s the memo:

Executive Summary: The ultra left-wing Web site Daily Kos commissioned a poll by Research 2000, which was conducted in Illinois’ 10th Congressional District from 9/30-10/1.  The survey was flawed on three levels.  First, the survey over-sampled voters age 18-29 while under-sampling voters 60+.  Second, the survey over-sampled Democrats and Independents while under-sampling Republicans.  Third, the survey was intentionally conducted on the Jewish High Holy Day of Rosh HaShanah that would exclude observant Jewish Democratic voters who lean more toward Kirk than average Democrats.

Skewed Age Sample:  According to the database of actual registered voters, only 16 percent of voters are aged 18-29, while 30 percent are over age 60.  The Research 2000 poll filled sample quotas differently, showing 19 percent of those surveyed between the ages of 18-29 and only 18 percent of voters over age 60.  Mark Kirk has always done better among older voters.  Skewing the poll by age skews it toward Seals.  

Faulty Party Sample:  Over more than two years of polling, our surveys found on average that the 10th District breaks down as follows: 34% Republican, 34% Democrat and 32% Independent.  The Research 2000 poll filled sample quotas differently, showing 35% Democrats, 36% Independent and only 29% Republicans.  Surveying more Democrats and less Republicans will obviously create an artificially closer race.  In the 8 years that we have polled for Mark Kirk, we have never had Republicans among likely voters to be less than 33%.

Excluding Kirk-Leaning Jewish Voters:  It is no surprise that DailyKos, which has come under attack by Democrats like Harold Ford Jr. and Lanny Davis for anti-Israel and anti-Semitic content, chose to conduct its poll on the Jewish High Holy Day of Rosh HaShanah.  The 10th District is almost 20 percent Jewish – one of the larger Jewish districts in the nation.  In addition to being disrespectful, the poll excluded observant Jewish voters who tend to vote for Mark Kirk more than average Democrats.  In our last survey, Kirk did 25 percent better among Jewish voters than a typical Republican.  By having fewer older voters, fewer Republicans and fewer ticket-splitting Jewish voters, DailyKos made sure the Democratic quota broke more for Dan Seals to give him an extra boost.  And even with their biases, Mark Kirk still is leading.  

Update:

UPDATE:

Responding to McLaughlin & Associates’ analysis, Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas said that assertions that the site was anti-Semitic and the poll results biased .were completely unfounded. “It’s ridiculous that we would time a poll to exclude Jewish voters. If we we’d want to cook this poll we’d over-sample Jews” because they overwhelmingly vote for Democrats, he Moulitsas told the Forward.

“To take that next step and say that we’re anti-Semitic and polling on certain days to hurt Republican is absolutely absurd,” he said.

From the reaction, it’s obvious that Kirk’s campaign is feeling the heat, he added. “Nobody reacts this way to a poll that says they are winning,” Moulitsas said.

While Daily Kos commissioned the poll, Moulitsas maintained the polling firm, which is also used by some independent newspapers for polling, conducted the survey unfettered by the blog. He publishes the results regardless of the outcome. “We’ve run polls that show Democrats getting blown out of the water,” he said. Daily Kos also publishes the complete poll results so readers can review all the underlying data themselves.

Steve Sheffey, a Seals supporter and former president of CityPAC, a pro-Israel political action committee based in Chicago, also took issue with McLaughlin’s interpretation.

He called it unfair to label Daily Kos anti-Semitic because of the posts of a few individuals on the site that’s an open forum, where anybody can post his or her thoughts. Similarly, it would be unfair to label all Republicans or all Democrats as anti-Semitic because of the comments of a few individuals, he said.


Obama Still Struggling With Jewish Voters

By Brett Lieberman

Democrat Barack Obama enjoys a nearly 2-1 advantage among Jewish voters over Republican John McCain, yet his support continues to lag well-behind historical levels that Democrats have enjoyed from the Jewish community, according to a new survey of Jewish voters.

The American Jewish Committee’s 2008 Annual Survey of American Jewish Opinion shows Obama leading McCain 57 percent to 30 percent. Another 13 percent of the 914 self-identifying Jewish respondents surveyed said they were undecided. Exit polls showed that John Kerry received 76 percent of the Jewish vote in 2004.

The poll is the latest evidence that Obama continues to struggle winning over Jewish voters despite the optimism expressed by campaign aides and members of the National Jewish Democratic Council at the organization’s Washington conference this week.

The telephone survey by Synovate was conducted by Sept. 8-21. It has a 3 percent margin of error.

Nearly three quarters of those surveyed approved of Obama’s selection of Delaware Senator Joseph Biden as his running mate. Fifty-four percent of respondents disapproved of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, McCain’s choice for vice president.

Democrats have viewed the Palin selection as good news because they say many Jewish voters are turned off by her lack of foreign policy credentials and lack of prior statements about Israel.

More than half of those surveyed – 54 percent – said they want to hear the candidates talk more about the economy. Only 3 percent cites Israel as the issue they want to hear discussed more.

By overwhelming margins, respondents predicted Democrats would do a better job addressing terrorism, strengthening the economy, supporting Israel, working towards energy independence, and the Iraq war.



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