washingtonpost.com  > Politics > Elections > 2004 Election

Iraq War Leads Jewish Voters To Kerry, Poll Finds

By Alan Cooperman
Wednesday, September 22, 2004; Page A09

Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) is gaining support among Jewish voters as growing numbers disapprove of President Bush's handling of the war in Iraq, according to a poll commissioned by the American Jewish Committee.

If the election were held today, 69 percent of Jewish voters would support Kerry, 24 percent would back Bush and 3 percent would give their votes to Ralph Nader, the survey found. That's an increase of 10 percentage points for Kerry since December, when the previous AJC poll showed him with 59 percent of the Jewish vote.

But there is also a bright side of the survey for Bush. Though he has lost ground among Jewish voters since the beginning of the year, he is still five percentage points ahead of where he was in the 2000 election, when he received 19 percent of the Jewish vote, according to exit polls.

The nationwide telephone poll of 1,000 Jewish voters was conducted Aug. 18 to Sept. 1 and had a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points.

Although Jews make up only about 2 percent of the U.S. population, they are a significant group in some battlegrounds, such as Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, and a major fundraising base for Democratic candidates.

The poll did not ask why voters support Bush or Kerry. But some of its findings suggest that the rising support for Kerry is connected to the war in Iraq, according to David A. Harris, executive director of the nonpartisan AJC. The survey found that 66 percent of U.S. Jews disapprove of the war, up from 54 percent in December; 57 percent think the threat of terrorism against the United States has increased as a result of the war.

"The president has not made any inroads among the middle-of-the-road Jewish voters, probably because, on issues like abortion, stem cell research, gay rights, gun control and church-state issues, he has stuck with his most loyal conservative constituency and has not tacked toward the center," Harris said.

Crisis Publisher to Step Down

The crisis is over at Crisis magazine. The small but influential Roman Catholic monthly announced yesterday that its publisher, Deal W. Hudson, will step down at year's end after a scandal over sexual harassment allegations.

Hudson, 54, has been a key intermediary between the Bush White House and conservative Catholics. He served as director of Catholic outreach for the Bush campaign in 2000 and held the same volunteer post in the Bush-Cheney '04 campaign until last month.

Hudson resigned from the campaign when a Catholic newspaper revealed that he was forced to surrender a tenured position at Fordham University a decade ago because of sexual misconduct with an 18-year-old female student.

In an e-mail to supporters yesterday, Hudson said the decision to resign as publisher of Crisis "was my call." But according to a regular contributor to the magazine, which has a circulation of 32,000, five of its marquee columnists had threatened to quit unless he left.

In addition, the magazine had difficulty attracting a big-name speaker for its annual fundraising banquet last Friday at the Willard Hotel. The scheduled speaker, former Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan, withdrew because of other commitments, Crisis spokeswoman Zoe Romanowsky said. Still, Romanowsky said 330 people attended the $250-a-plate dinner and that "everyone had a fabulous time and was very supportive."

Neither Hudson nor the chairman of the magazine's board, Cortes DeRussy, returned phone calls. The magazine said that a new publisher "will be named in the near future" and that Hudson will become director of the newly formed Morley Institute, which will engage in fundraising and book publishing.

In his e-mail, Hudson said his first project will be "a book on how Catholics can get involved in politics."

© 2004 The Washington Post Company