The Washington Post

A caution on Jewish polling

I share criticism that some of the questions in the recently released Caddell-McLaughlin poll were quite tilted, shedding doubt on the utility of the poll. But a fuller context for the effort to poll American Jews is long overdue.

Peyton Craighill, The Post’s polling manager, doesn’t merely take issue with this poll. He offers some important cautions about efforts to poll a very small segment of the electorate. He told me yesterday, “It’s extremely difficult to find timely, reliable polling of Jewish samples. I know what Pew and Gallup have are based primarily on very large aggregations of Jewish respondents from their typical [random] samples. They basically pull together lots of interviews from their monthly or tracking polls.” There have been efforts to do more exact sampling, he says: “I know that the Pew Forum on Religion did a major poll in 2007 called their Religious Landscape Survey where they drilled down to a variety of denominations. They conducted over 35,000 interviews for that survey and got somewhere around 680 Jews using rigorous [random] sampling procedures.” Of course, this is “very expensive and time-consuming,” he notes.

So the bottom line is that all of these polls should be taken with a grain of salt. Peyton tells me: “The short answer is that the Jewish population is small enough that it is very expensive and time-consuming to conduct a poll using the highest methodological standards.”

That seems like wise counsel for both defenders and critics of the president’s stance toward Israel. And, to be frank, if the left really thinks Obama’s approach to Israel is so terrific, why not focus on the results of his policy of badgering Israel? Oh, I see.

Jennifer Rubin writes the Right Turn blog for The Post, offering reported opinion from a conservative perspective.


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