AJC 2015 Survey of American Jews

Sponsor(s): American Jewish Committee (AJC)

Key Findings:

The 2015 American Jewish Committee (AJC) Annual Survey of American Jewish Opinion utilized an Internet survey to measure the opinions of 1,030 Jewish Americans; an Internet survey has been conducted for AJC by GfK Research since 2012; during the preceding decades, telephone survey interviews were conducted by other research firms. 

Available for downloading are the AJC press release summarizing the survey results, the survey questions and percentages, an explanation of the research methodology and the 2015 data file constructed by GfK.

The AJC press release noted: "The 2015 AJC Survey of American Jewish Opinion finds a community conflicted about the Iran nuclear deal, concerned about U.S.-Israel relations, and worried about rising anti-Semitism." 

Major findings from the survey include:

Iran Nuclear Deal

• U.S. Jews offer conflicting, and seemingly contradictory, views on the agreement reached between the P5+1 and Iran on July 14. A clear majority of American Jews lack confidence in the deal. Only 5 percent are “very confident,” 31 percent “somewhat confident,” 30 percent “not so confident,” and 33 percent “not confident at all” that the agreements will prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

• While 51 percent of  respondents approve of the deal and 47 percent disapprove, there is a significant split within the community on the issue -- those who consider being Jewish very important, those who view caring about Israel as a key part of their Jewish identity and those belonging to more traditional denominations of Judaism are far more likely to oppose the deal than others. "It may, in fact," the press release noted, "be appropriate, in light of the data, to speak of two diverging Jewish sub-communities."

• For example, survey results show that among those who consider being Jewish “very” important, 38 percent approve it.  In contrast, 55 percent of those for whom being Jewish is “fairly” important approve the deal, as do 59 percent of those for whom being Jewish is not important.

• Fully 67 percent of Orthodox and Conservative Jews disapprove of the agreement, 45 percent “strongly.” Yet 54 percent of Reform and Reconstructionist Jews approve of it (only 19 percent “strongly”), as do 69 percent of those who identify as “just Jewish.”

• "The survey also found a fairly widespread lack of confidence in the ability of the U.S. and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN body tasked with overseeing implementation of the Iran agreement, to monitor Tehran’s compliance."  Six percent of respondents are “very confident”  in implementation oversight, 38 percent are “somewhat confident,” 28 percent “not so confident,” and 26 percent “not at all confident.”

• "The survey data suggest that the best predictor, of all the variables, for attitudes towards the agreement is political party affiliation. Self-described Democrats, who comprised 49 percent of those surveyed, are far more likely to support it, and Republicans, who comprised 19 percent of those surveyed, are far more likely to oppose it."

•  AJC also noted that attitudes towards the deal also vary by age. For example, younger Jews are more confident that the deal will block Iran from getting nuclear weapons: "45 percent of those aged 18 to 29; 41 percent of those aged 30 to 44; 30 percent of those aged 45 to 59; and 33 percent of those 60 and over are confident that the agreement will prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons."

2016 Elections

The 2015 survey showed that Hillary Clinton is by far the leading choice of Jewish voters for president in the 2016 election; 40% of all respondents (and 47% of females) prefer Hillary Clinton as their first choice.  Bernie Sanders was selected by 18% as a first-choice, Donald Trump 10% and Jeb Bush 9%.  NOTE: 2013 AJC Poll has interesting comparative data (see link on left).

In this context, 45% percent of those surveyed called themselves “Liberal” or “Lean Liberal,” 34 percent “Moderate, Middle of the road,” and 21 percent “Conservative” or “Lean Conservative.”

U.S.- Israel Relations, the Peace Process, Anti-Semitism, Global Terrorism and Jewish Identity were other major topics covered and reported in the survey.  Several of the topics have been included in AJC Polls in the past, so researchers can analyze trends in American Jewish opinion.

DataBank users might want to compare AJC Poll responses with the results of the Jewish Journal's poll of American Jews conducted by SSRS with Steven M. Cohen as principal investigator, for which the data file has already been deposited with the DataBank and is available for researchers.  The DataBank expects to be able to archive and post the AJC 2015 data file within two months. 


Sample of 1,030 Jewish persons surveyed from August 7 - August 12, 2015.

Sample Size: 1,030

Sample Notes:

GfK conducted the study for AJC.  Research methodology report describes their Internet panel selection processes and weighting procedures (Jews weighted to denomination as reported in Pew 2013) in considerable detail.

GfK sent invitations to participate to 1,386 qualified Jewish respondents (Jewish-by-religion or Jewish for any other reason); 74% cooperated with the request to participate in the survey. Error range for survey responses of all one-thousand plus respondents reported as +/- 4.7%, including design error related to weighting (as described in the methodology report).

Data File

All reported data use the "weight" variable in the data file, which adjusts the data to parameters on denomination from the 2013 Pew Portrait of Jewish Americans and also reflects post-stratification efforts for US adults.  Please see the Methodology report for details.

The weighted number of interviews (after post-stratification) is still 1030, but reflects a weighted: (a) 775 Jewish respondents by religion, (b) 77 respondents who consider themselves to be Jewish, but do not identify with a religion, and (c) 178 respondents who consider themselves half or partially Jewish, but do not identify Judaism as their religion.  

The last variable in the data file - "JewType"  -  was computed by the DataBank from the two questions used to determine Jewish status, and is the basis of the numbers cited above.  For DataBank users who are interested in comparing the answers of Jews by religion and other Jewish respondents, this variable will allow for quick comparisons.

All data should be run with "weight" to match the reports.

Please note that the DataBank also has changed the name of a few variables from the original GfK data file to "religion...," "consider...," and "denom..." to assist users.  Data from GfK have not been changed.


Study Notes:

A list of previous AJC Surveys and other publications available via the DataBank is available via link on left.

Language: English


Survey Reports

» AJC 2015 Survey of American Jews_Press Release Summary of Results

Documentation, Questionnaires and Frequencies

» AJC 2015 Survey of American Jews_Questions and Percentages

» AJC 2015 Survey of American Jews_Methodology

Data Files and Data Definitions

» 2015-AJC DATA FILE - Survey of American Jews

Bookmark and Share