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US Jews mostly back Biden as Trump's support slips among Christians: Poll

Pew poll finds 70 percent of Jewish voters say they will support Biden as enthusiasm for Trump falls by five percent among Evangelicals
Supporter wears Trump yarmulke prior to speech by US president during Republican Jewish Coalition 2019 Annual Leadership Meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada (AFP/File photo)

The vast majority of American Jews plan to vote for former Vice President Joe Biden over US President Donald Trump this November, a Pew research poll has found. 

About 70 percent of US Jews plan to support Biden, according to Tuesday's poll, compared with the 27 percent that plan to vote for Trump. 

The poll, which surveyed more than 10,000 US voters of different faiths, shows that American Jews have largely kept to the historic pattern of backing Democrats despite Trump's moves in support of Israel, which he has made a focus of his presidency. 

"Trump has proven himself to be a hateful authoritarian leader who has directly and intentionally emboldened white nationalists and antisemites across the US," Beth Miller, government affairs manager at the political and advocacy arm of Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP Action), told Middle East Eye. 

"It's unsurprising that the overwhelming majority of American Jews will be voting him out of office this coming November."

During his first term, Trump has made a series of moves outside the US status quo in support of Israel at the expense of Palestinians, including moving the US embassy to Jerusalem and recognising the city as its undivided capital, endorsing Israel's sovereignty of Syria's Golan Heights and most recently, brokering normalisation deals between Israel and the UAE and Bahrain. 

'The vast majority of American Jews are not single-issue voters, nor is Israel a defining concern for them'

- Beth Miller, government affairs manager at JVP Action

But Miller said Trump's support for Israel does not necessarily resonate with America's Jewish population. 

"The vast majority of American Jews are not single-issue voters, nor is Israel a defining concern for them," Miller said. 

Trump has not always shown an understanding of the difference between American Jews and Israeli Jews.

Last month, in a call with American Jewish leaders, Trump spent much of his time making the case for more American Jews to vote for him, and ended his remarks by equating Jewish Americans with Israelis.

"We really appreciate you," Trump said as he signed off the call, an annual pre-Rosh Hashanah presidential tradition. "We love your country also."

There were also several other instances during the call in which Trump equated American Jews with Israelis. 

"There is a misconception that President Trump's support for the Israeli government stems from his interest in appeasing American Jews. In fact, Trump's pro-Israel positions are designed to target his much larger white Evangelical Christian Zionist base," Miller said.

Trump's Christian support slips 

Pew's poll indicated that the only groups with less support for Trump than Jews were Hispanic Catholics, atheists, Black Protestants, and the religiously unaffiliated.

Those groups amount to at least 42 percent of registered voters, as roughly seven percent are Black Protestants, five percent are Hispanic Catholics, two percent are Jewish and 28 percent are religiously unaffiliated, according to the Pew Research Center. 

Muslims were not polled in any of the Pew surveys observed for this article. 

Meanwhile, Trump's biggest backers among religious groups were white Christians, according to the Pew poll, with 52 percent saying they would vote for Trump versus 44 percent for Biden. 

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White Christians are a key segment of the electorate because they make up a little less than half of all registered voters. 

The president's support among them, however, seems to have dipped since Pew's August survey, which showed 59 percent support for Trump and 40 percent for Biden. 

Non-Evangelical Protestant support experienced a similar drop, from 59 percent in the summer to 53 percent now. 

Evangelicals, considered Trump's strongest base, have also begun to weaken in their support for the president. While an August Pew poll found Trump had 83 percent support among those congregants, the October poll showed the group polling for Trump at 78 percent. 

"One partial factor in Trump’s declining support from White Christians might be that the new survey, for the first time, gave respondents the option of saying they would vote for Libertarian candidate Jo Jorgensen or Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins. Only Trump and Biden were listed by name in the August survey," the Pew Research Center noted.

Exit polls showed that in 2016, 81 percent of Evangelicals voted for Trump, while 16 percent voted for Hillary Clinton.