Poll: Romney’s support among Jewish voters slips ahead of Israel trip

A new poll shows President Obama gaining among Jewish voters on the eve of GOP candidate Mitt Romney’s visit to Israel, but still well below his support in the 2008 election.

A Gallup poll finds Jewish registered voters supporting the president by 68 percent to 25 for Romney.

The numbers represent a slip for Romney from a June Gallup poll which found him at 29 percent to Obama's 64 percent support among Jewish voters.

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The poll though still shows a drop from Obama’s 78 percent in the 2008 election, where his rival Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) gained 21 percent.

Both campaigns have worked hard to win Jewish voters, who are a key demographic in many important swing states.

Romney is headed to Israel on Sunday, his second stop on a three-country foreign tour that includes visits to the United Kingdom and Poland.

Democrats have sought to counter criticism from Romney and Republicans that the president has been a weak ally of Israel, failing to visit the country in his first term and for high-profile public disagreements with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over settlements in the Palestinian territories. 

Obama, on Friday, signed a bill which reaffirmed U.S.-Israel military and strategic ties. The bill passed Congress 10 days ago, but the president chose to sign it on the eve of Romney’s trip. 

Romney’s visit to Israel, where he will meet with Netanyahu will help him best with Republican voters, who hold the most positive views about the Israeli leader, the poll suggests. 

Fifty percent of Republicans view Netanyahu favorably, with 16 percent unfavorable, a net positive 34-point rating. Among independents Netanyahu has a net +9 rating, with 32 percent favorable and 23 unfavorable. Yet, among Democrats, he is viewed unfavorably by 31 percent, with 25 percent holding a positive view of the prime minister.

Gallup, however, says it is unlikely Romney will see much of a boost from Jewish voters in the polls due to his Israel trip “given the strong support Jewish voters have shown for Obama and the fact that Republicans, who are generally more pro-Israel, already overwhelmingly support Romney.”

Romney is also scheduled to meet Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad during his visit. The campaign has also planned a fundraiser at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, where Romney will meet casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, who has been a key backer of super-PACs opposed to Obama’s reelection. 

Romney, in interviews with Israeli news organizations, pledged to “take whatever action is necessary” to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, which Netanyahu’s government views as the main threat to Israel’s security.

On Friday, Romney’s campaign also circulated a statement from House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) criticizing White House press secretary Jay Carney for side-stepping questions about Jerusalem. 

Asked during the briefing which city, Jerusalem or Tel Aviv, the U.S. considered the capital of Israel, Carney would only say “our position has not changed.” 

While Israel’s government and some countries recognize Jerusalem as the capital, the U.S. does not officially acknowledge Jerusalem as the capital, with the U.S. embassy located in Tel Aviv.

The Gallup poll was conducted from July 9 to 12 and has a 4 percent margin of error.

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