A majority of Jews, especially secular Jews, will vote for President Barack Obama, but his backing is weaker than in 2008, according to a new American Jewish Committee poll released Monday.
For the first time, the survey breaks down the Jewish vote between those who attend synagogue at least once a week and those who rarely or never attend.
Only 52 percent of Jews who attend religious services at least once a week plan to vote for President Obama, compared with 67 support for the president among those who do not appear at synagogues or temples. Mitt Romney would receive 34 percent of the vote of Jews attending religious services regularly, leaving a gap of 14 percent of those who did not register a preference.
Jews who do not arrive for prayer services on a regular basis backed Obama by 31 percent, compared with 21 percent for Romney.
All groups together gave President Obama support of 61 percent and Romney 28 percent, a commanding majority but far less than the 78 percent who voted for him in 2008.
The survey also found that 67 percent of Jewish women favor Obama and only 22 percent would vote for Romney, while only 55 percent of the men back Obama and 34 support Romney.
The respondents to the poll said the overwhelming election issue is the economy, and only 22 percent cited American-Israeli relations as the overriding factor in their voting preference. Other issues were health care and national security.
Among those who are focused on national security concerns, 44% would vote for Romney. Among those more concerned about U.S.-Israel relations, 45% favor Romney. In both groups, 42 percent would vote for Obama.
“On the current state of U.S.-Israel relations, 58 percent approve and 40 percent disapprove of President Obama's handling of the relationship,” the AJC stated. “By comparison, 70 percent approve of Prime Minister Netanyahu's handling of U.S.-Israel relations and 28 percent disapprove.”
An overwhelming 89 percent “are concerned about the prospect of Iran obtaining nuclear weapons, and 11 percent are not concerned.”
If diplomacy and sanctions fail, 64 percent would support, and 34 percent oppose, U.S. military action against Iran, while 75 percent would support, and 25 percent oppose, Israeli military action.
The survey also revealed that 59 percent of American Jews have never visited Israel, 19 percent visited once, and 21 percent have visited two or more times.
However, 71 percent of respondents believe that caring about Israel is a very important part of being a Jew.