With 14 months to go before the presidential election, President Trump has seemingly settled on a strategy to woo Jewish voters away from the Democratic Party. After months of repeatedly invoking what he believes to be widespread anti-Semitism and hatred of Israel among Democrats, the president claimed last month that Jews who vote for Democrats were being “disloyal” to themselves and to Israel.
The president’s comments on disloyalty came after freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) suggested that the United States should reconsider foreign aid to Israel after the country barred her and another freshman Muslim congresswoman, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, from visiting in August.
The charge offended many American Jews, drawing Jewish organizations to condemn the president’s words. Now, new polling suggests it’s not just Jews who were offended by the suggestion that Jews voting for Democrats were being disloyal.
A poll by Morning Consult found that 59 percent of voters disapproved of the president’s comments. Just 23 percent said they approved of his comments, with 18 percent saying they don’t know or have no opinion. Among Democrats, 86 percent strongly disapproved of the president’s comments, while 51 percent of Republicans approved of them. The poll was conducted Aug. 23-25 and included 1,987 registered voters with a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percent.
The new polling calls into question the president’s strategy of trying to turn anti-Semitism and support for Israel into a wedge issue between Jews and Democrats. Despite the president’s repeated attacks on Democrats, in particular Tlaib and Omar, two of the four first-term Democrats known as the “squad,” Jewish voters’ opinion of the president have largely stayed the same.
A Morning Consult poll from Aug. 19-25 of 1,070 registered Jewish voters found that 71 percent disapproved of the president’s job performance, a figure consistent with polling throughout the Trump presidency. A poll commissioned by J Street of Jewish voters in the 2018 midterms found that 76 percent of American Jewish voters cast ballots for Democrats and 19 percent for Republicans. That was an increase from the 2016 presidential election when seven-in-10 Jewish voters went for Hillary Clinton and 25 percent for Donald Trump. According to FiveThirtyEight’s tracker of job approval polling, 53.5 percent of all registered voters disapprove of the president’s job performance while 42.5 percent approve.
Halie Soifer, executive director of the Jewish Democratic Council of America, said that Jewish voters were unlikely to be swayed by the president’s 2020 messaging. She emphasized that American Jews base their votes on domestic issues, not Israel. (Orthodox Jews, many of whom support President Trump’s moves with regard to Israel, tend to weigh Israel issues more heavily than liberal Jews in their vote calculations.)
“The president wants to run in 2020 against a false portrayal of the Democratic Party, but Jewish voters know the difference between fact and fiction,” said Soifer. “Approximately three-quarters of American Jewish voters have supported Democrats for decades, and all signs indicate that will continue in 2020.”