In recent news, President Biden has defended Israel’s raid on al-Shifa, the largest hospital in the Gaza Strip, while acknowledging the need for caution. Biden accused Hamas of using the hospital as a concealment for its “headquarters” and justified the raid as a legitimate effort to combat terrorism. However, recent polls indicate that Democrats are increasingly disillusioned with Israel’s actions and cause.
According to a new Quinnipiac University poll released on Thursday, the views of Democrats have shifted since last month. In October, shortly after Hamas’ attack on October 7, the poll showed that 48 percent of Democrats sympathized more with Israel, while only 22 percent sympathized with the Palestinians. However, the latest poll reveals a flip in these numbers, with 41 percent of Democrats now leaning towards the Palestinians as compared to 34 percent supporting Israel.
Another poll conducted by The Economist/YouGov also highlights a similar but less significant erosion in sympathy towards Israel. Last month, the poll showed a 2-to-1 advantage for Israel (34 percent to 16 percent), which has now decreased to a minimal 23-17 edge.
The Quinnipiac poll further reveals that Democrats disapprove of Israel’s response to the October 7 attack by a margin of more than 2-to-1, with 60 percent expressing disapproval and only 27 percent approving. Additionally, the percentage of Democrats who believe the United States is too supportive of Israel has risen from 28 percent to 39 percent.
Similarly, the YouGov poll demonstrates a rise in the percentage of Democrats who perceive Israel’s response as “too harsh,” increasing from 25 percent to 34 percent.
The NPR/PBS/Marist College poll depicts an even more significant shift in opinion. While in the previous month, 35 percent of Democrats considered Israel’s response to be “too much,” the number has now risen to a majority, with 56 percent expressing the same sentiment.
Moreover, the Marist poll highlights a decline in Democrats’ approval of President Biden on this issue, dropping from 77 percent to 60 percent. Although Biden has consistently shown support for Israel, his administration has recently moderated its tone and criticized certain Israeli actions.
It is worth considering whether these shifts in public opinion are a response to recent events or a return to longstanding beliefs. Previous polls conducted by Gallup earlier this year indicated that, for the first time in the 21st century, Democrats were more sympathetic towards Palestinians than Israelis. Even the most recent polls demonstrate that Democrats still harbor a slightly more favorable view towards Palestinians than those conducted by Gallup.
While President Biden continues to align with Israel, he has implicitly acknowledged some valid criticism. Despite defending the hospital raid, Biden described it as “a different story than I believe was occurring before, an indiscriminate bombing.”
These numbers highlight the political challenge Biden faces. While the majority of Americans overall still strongly support Israel, this issue has historically divided the Democratic base. Remarkably, the groups that exhibit low enthusiasm towards Biden’s presidency and his potential 2024 candidacy are also the most aligned with the Palestinian cause – young people, African Americans, and Hispanics.
Biden, who has long been a supporter of Israel and identified as a Zionist, is confronted with the difficult task of navigating this issue. However, the challenges he faces in balancing these conflicting interests continue to mount.