One of the frustrations for anyone working in the Jewish community is that it has been impossible to provide a reliable snapshot of opinion on any given subject. What were our views of the Gaza war last summer? Do we think shechita is under threat? Have we experienced antisemitism? The list of issues on which it would be invaluable to know what Jews think is almost endless.
Until now, pollsters have been unable to reach a sufficient number to make any survey representative. Given the small size of our community it has been too labour intensive, and thus too costly, to be realistic. Various attempts have been made to work around this, with internet questionnaires the most common - such as this week's by the Campaign Against Antisemitism. But none of them are representative, not least because respondents are self-selecting and do not meet the statistical standards demanded by the polling industry body, the British Polling Council.
All that has now changed.
For the past few months, the JC has been working with the polling company Survation, who have been building an extensive targeted database of thousands of Jews across the UK who can be randomly contacted for polling. Thanks to newly developed techniques, unique to Survation, we now have access to the first ever polling database of British Jews. For this week’s poll, over 90% of responses were collected by telephone. A small number of respondents were initially contacted by telephone but chose to submit their responses online.
We had planned to release details of this breakthrough towards the end of the month and to begin with a poll of over 1,000 respondents – the standard number we will be using. But events in Paris meant that it made sense to use it this week to ask how safe we feel. That poll is presented above, but due to time constraints has 550 respondents.
We now have access to a tool that will enable us to report, with real reliability, the representative views of British Jews. It is an exciting opportunity.