Working Paper No. 508 | July 2007

The American Jewish Committee’s Annual Opinion Surveys

An Assessment of Sample Quality

The American Jewish Committee (AJC) surveys of Jewish opinion are unique both in being conducted annually and in the subject matter covered. This paper assesses the quality of these samples. I first summarize my earlier findings on the implications of limiting a sample to respondents who answered “Jewish” when asked a screening question about their religion. I then explore how well the AJC samples actually represent the chosen target population of Jews by religion. That exploration rests on public use datasets available for five recent AJC survey years. Outcomes from these five datasets can be compared to one another as well as to outcomes from public use datasets of two other recent national surveys of Jews, especially on the demographic characteristics of the respondents. The paper finds some larger-than-expected differences among AJC samples, and between these and the other two types of datasets. Finally, the paper considers the extent to which these differences matter for the substantive analysis of American Jewish opinion.

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