WASHINGTON (Reuters) - American Jews strongly support President Barack Obama’s re-election even though backing by the key voting group has slipped since he was first elected to office, according to a survey released on Tuesday.
Sixty-two percent of Jewish voters said they would like to see Obama re-elected versus 30 percent who prefer a Republican to win the November election, the Jewish Values Survey by the Public Religion Research Institute said.
Jews make up only 2 percent of the U.S. population but are crucial for Obama. They are heavily Democratic and are concentrated in swing states such as Pennsylvania and Florida that are important to Obama’s bid for re-election.
Obama, a Democrat, has come under attack from Republican presidential candidates who allege he has not been supportive of Israel.
Overall support for Obama is nearly identical to the backing he had at the same point in the 2008 campaign when he was locked in a primary battle with Hillary Clinton, the survey said.
But support is down from the 78 percent of Jewish votes Obama garnered in the 2008 election when he defeated Republican John McCain.
Obama’s approval rating is 61 percent among Jewish voters, the survey showed, above the 50 percent notched among Americans overall in a Reuters/Ipsos poll last month.
The Jewish Values Survey shows 51 percent of Jewish voters say the economy is the most important issue for the 2012 election.
Israel and Iran, whose nuclear program the West suspects is a cover to develop atomic weapons, rank at 4 percent and 2 percent respectively.
The survey was carried out among 1,004 Jewish adults over 18 and interviews were done online between February 23 and March 5. The margin of error is 5 percentage points.
Reporting By Ian Simpson; editing by Christopher Wilson