The debate on Jewish GOP voters continues

Shmuel Rosner, Chief US Correspondent for Haaretz, has weighed in again in the continuing debate on what polls revealed about Jewish voting preferences in the recent election.  Mr. Rosner's article is worth reading carefully. He agrees with me that the National Exit Poll data  survey does not enable one to draw reliable conclusions on how Jews voted three weeks back. I  have stated this in two articles already.  

My second piece was directed at an article by Jennifer Siegel who writes for the Forward. Miss Siegel attacked the RJC poll in her most recent article on this subject for not interviewing unaffiliated Jewish voters and offered the National Exit Poll results as an alternative.  In a short piece on Monday, Rosner applauded Miss Siegel for her good work on the RJC poll. But since Rosner concludes, as I do, that the National Exit Poll data is worthless, why does he not criticize Miss Siegel for falling back on this survey as an alternative?

I argued that one reason Miss Siegel, the Forward, the New York Times, and the National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) might keep coming back to the National Exit Poll results, is that they like the results better than those in the RJC poll. Rosner says this is a cheap shot, and that I offer no proof of this. Really?

In my first article I pointed out that the NJDC had attacked a 2002 survey of Jewish voting patterns for having too small a survey sample (253)
. But the NJDC quickly trumpeted the 2006 National Exit Poll results with only 200 Jews surveyed. I think hypocrisy is too kind to describe this pattern.

As for Miss Siegel, by the time she wrote her recent article, she had to be well aware of the criticism of the National Exit Poll data with regard to the reliability of the results for Jewish voters, given the tiny sample size (and its too small  Jewish representation as a percentage of the national survey group). Yet she mentions none of this in her article. Instead, her article is a hit piece on the RJC sampling methodology for excluding unaffiliated Jews. 

Rosner, I think, is putting the blinders on in terms of bias here. In fact, the good cheer with which he welcomed the Siegel article and the congratulations he offered her for her continued work on this (despite her continued touting of the National Exit Poll), and his calling the RJC survey a "hoax",  might suggest a rooting interest himself in trashing the RJC results.

As to the RJC survey, Mr. Rosner has some interesting things to say. He concludes that the RJC poll was flawed because it did not include unaffiliated Jewish voters.  I argued in my second piece on this subject, that one could perhaps assume that unaffiliated Jews might have voted in a similar fashion as Reform Jews, Mr. Rosner suggests that in fact, unaffiliated Jew might be more conservative than Reform Jews, and might have supported Republican candidates in greater numbers than Reform Jews (who checked in at 22% support  for Republicans in the RJC poll). Looking at Mr. Rosner's data from an AJC survey, I think the political preferences for Reform Jews and unaffiliated Jews appear to be pretty similar (I think Rosner misplaces the yes and no votes on Iraq for Reform Jews but that is another matter. Does anybody really think Reform Jews back the Iraq war at the 70% plus level?).

In any case, I think Mr. Rosner might be willing to agree that the RJC results are a reliable indicator of how Jews who are members of congregations voted in the three areas surveyed.  So far, neither he, nor Miss Siegel has suggested that the RJC survey results at this level are unreliable (in the case of Miss Siegel, there is little reason to believe she has even the most basic statistical background to enable her to even comment).

Mr. Rosner's data from the AJC further suggests that the voting pattern of Reform Jews might have been a good  proxy for the unaffiliated Jews not included in the RJC survey, as I argued.  By weighing the 46% of Jewish voters who are unaffiliated voters at the Reform Jews' voting pattern, the RJC result would show about 24-25% support for Republicans in 2006. Mr. Rosner says that in fact, he Republican support level might be even higher, given that unaffiliated Jews may be more conservative in their voting pattern than Reform Jews. The 24-25% support level for the GOP that I proffered in my second article based on the RJC poll results seems like a solid estimate in light of the new data Mr. Rosner has provided.