5

As far as I know many democrats voters are unhappy with the current situation in the Gaza strip and the other occupied territories. I guess that they view negatively Biden's inability to constrain the Israeli actions. Trouble is that on the other side Trump is such a staunch supporter of Israel that he moved to Jerusalem the US embassy and he de facto recognised the annexation of territories occupied in 1967 and still considered occupied territories by the UN.

How is that affecting the way they view the two candidates? Voters unwilling to vote Biden for this issue are now confronted with a harder choice.

Note: I did some research online and I found only some opinion polls containing misleading questions. I would like to understand better the reaction of voters trapped between two evil choices.

3
  • 3
    Not sure what the question is. We'll see at election time how the Arab Americans etc. actually vote, if at all. FWTW politics.stackexchange.com/questions/86488/… Apr 12 at 12:29
  • @thegodsfromengineering pretty much. Way too complex to analyze in advance. Even custom poll questions... we've seen how well they work with gauging Trump support. Too much support for Israel may hurt Biden. Too little support for Israel may hurt Biden. Then it depends how much pro-Palestine leaners remember about how dismissive Trump has been to Palestinians in the past. Trump is not running the show, which is an advantage for him here, as he is much less involved with the current mess. Let's wait for the vote. Apr 12 at 17:15
  • Voting not to close - As my answer to this Q shows, it is sometimes possible to gauge the voters mood through polls, media reports and political actions when they all show congruency.
    – sfxedit
    Apr 13 at 19:32

4 Answers 4

9

Trump has adopted a more critical tone towards Israel since the war began. Beyond that I'm not seeing any evidence that it's a factor for his base, and it helps that he's not the incumbent.

Biden is in a tough spot because there are many Democrats who care a lot about the issue and they are split across opposite sides. Many Democratic primary voters have been voting uncommitted as part of an organized campaign around the issue. The pro-Israel side of the party seems content with Biden himself but are attacking other Democrats down ballot who they consider too critical of Israel.

Overall I think it's too early to say that this issue will have a decisive impact one way or the other but if it does it is likely to hurt Biden by reducing Democratic turnout in key swing states like Michigan.

2
  • 2
    I don't know why people keep on saying that Trump is critical of the war. As stated in the article, he said "Israel is losing the PR war", and that he doesn't think they should post videos of them bombing buildings. Neither of those things relate to anythings besides the public perception of the war, not Trump's opinion of it.
    – Rafael
    Apr 18 at 1:16
  • @Rafael I'll leave my answer as it is but that's a good point. Trump has also said that Israel should "get back to peace and stop killing people" but it's not really clear that his position has changed in any meaningful way.
    – Brian Z
    Apr 18 at 1:26
8

A recent opinion poll suggests that the turning mood of American voters against Israel could somewhat negatively impact Biden more than Trump in the current Presidential elections in the US.

A press release from Gallup on March 27, 2024 states that the tiny majority support for Israel's action in Gaza has fallen drastically from 50% to 36% among Americans since November:

After narrowly backing Israel’s military action in Gaza in November, Americans now oppose the campaign by a solid margin. Fifty-five percent currently disapprove of Israel’s actions, while 36% approve. The latest results are from a March 1-20 survey ... Seventy-four percent of U.S. adults say they are following news of the Israeli-Hamas situation closely, similar to the 72% Gallup measured in November. One-third of Americans (34%) say they are following the situation “very closely.”

... All three major party groups in the U.S. have become less supportive of Israel’s actions in Gaza than they were in November. This includes declines of 18 percentage points in approval among both Democrats and independents and a seven-point decline among Republicans. Independents have shifted from being divided in their views of the Israeli military action to opposing it. Democrats, who were already largely opposed in November, are even more so now, with 18% approving and 75% disapproving. Republicans still support Israel’s military efforts, but a reduced majority -- 64%, down from 71% -- now approve.

... Biden’s approval rating for his handling of the situation in the Middle East, at 27%, is his lowest among five issues tested in the survey ... further contributing to Biden’s low rating on the Middle East situation, just 21% of independents and 16% of Republicans approve of his performance on the issue. - Majority in U.S. Now Disapprove of Israeli Action in Gaza

The press release concludes that the drastic shift in opinion among Independents and Democrats could negatively impact Biden if "those who care deeply about the issue" decide to just not vote at all - a lower voter turnout from supporters can definitely hurt the chances of Biden's re-election.

While the Gallup analysis strongly suggests that voters disgruntled with Biden (over Israel's invasion and genocide in Gaza) are most likely to express their anger by not voting at all, NBC News had reported last year (Oct 21, 2023) that many Arab / Muslim voters were also considering voting for other candidates and even reconsidering voting for Trump:

“Joe Biden has single-handedly alienated almost every Arab-American and Muslim American voter in Michigan,” said state Rep. Alabas Farhat, a Democrat whose district includes Dearborn, which is home to one of the largest Muslim and Arab American communities in the country.

... In rolling conversations in Michigan and beyond over the past two weeks, Muslim elected officials, activists and community leaders have coalesced around a plan to mobilize their constituents to vote next year — but also to encourage them to leave the top of the ticket blank in protest, according to multiple people involved in the discussions ... Others have heard from constituents who are planning to vote Republican because they feel that at least Republicans were honest with them about their carte-blanche support for Israel, while they feel duped and used by Democrats.

... Muslims make up only 1.3% of the U.S., about half the size of the Jewish population, but advocates argue their votes are critical in battleground states that may be won or lost on narrow margins, including Michigan, Minnesota, Georgia and Arizona ... “The president cannot win without the Muslim vote, point blank,” said Nada Al-Hanooti, the executive director of Emgage Michigan, the state chapter of a national nonprofit that works to engage Muslims politically. Al-Hanooti, who is Palestinian American, said she’s heard many people say they either won’t vote for president in 2024 or they’ll vote third party. - 'I will never vote Biden': Some Muslim Americans in a key swing state feel betrayed by the president

As the election contest heated up, this ire does indeed seem to have turned into a growing political protest within the Democrats. CBS News reported on March 11, 2024 - "Uncommitted" movement over the Israel-Hamas war spreads from Michigan to other states:

The protest-vote movement over President Joe Biden's handling of the Israel-Hamas war has spread to several states and raised more questions about whether a small but significant number of Democrats angry at Biden might abandon him in November.

A week after 101,000 Michigan voters chose "uncommitted" on their ballots, so did roughly 263,000 voters in the five Super Tuesday states where similar ballot options were available. Minnesota, which had the most organized effort outside of Michigan, saw 1 in 5 Democratic voters mark the "uncommitted" option, a higher percentage than the 13% who voted uncommitted in Michigan ... And a "Leave It Blank" campaign has formed for Georgia's Tuesday primary that's intended to have the same effect, as is a "uninstructed" vote in Wisconsin's April 2 primary. Supporters of the protest argue anger over the war could endanger Biden's chances in swing states like Michigan against former President Donald Trump in their likely rematch.

"We wanted to show that these voters not only morally matter but politically matter as well. Because if they sit out the election, which it seems like many of them might, that would have severe consequences for Biden," said Waleed Shahid, a Democratic strategist who first organized the effort in Michigan.

The recent public reprimand of Netanyahu by Biden was likely motivated to mollify his voter base. However, this could be complicated by Netanyahu's unwillingness to placate Biden. As Elijah J Magnier, a political analyst and war correspondent with 35 years experience in the middle-east insightfully pointed out Biden is really stuck between 'a rock and a hard place' due to Netanyahu, and thus is taking a bigger political risk on this issue than Trump:

“This challenge comes from a position of strength, where Netanyahu is saying to Biden ‘You’ve lost the support of American Arabs, and if you stand against me, you will lose the support of Zionist [as well.]... are you going to risk this when you have strong opposition represented by [former US President] Donald Trump?... This is why Benjamin Netanyahu doesn’t fear standing up and challenging Joe Biden.” - Netanyahu ‘Doesn’t Fear’ Biden With US Elections Looming.

Ofcourse, on this particular issue, voters cannot really trust Trump too. Israel's current leadership may actually prefer Trump to Biden as he doesn't care about following conventions, especially on foreign policy (Trump recognizes Jerusalem as Israel's capital, reversing long time U.S. policy). American voters who are appalled at the ongoing massacre and misery of the Palestinians don't have any real choice in the presidential candidates and can only find solace in some form of moral political protest with their vote.

7
  • 2
    IMO the key point above, is the asymmetrical impact on turnout, rather than flipping of voter preference between Biden and Trump. Biden's turnout motivator, is offering what Democrats see as a substantial improvement vs the moral outrage that Trump represents to Democrats. For some voters, this motivator is undercut by a pattern of looking the other way on what many Democrats see as primary facie war crimes. And Netanyahu, for his own political reasons, has to make a point each time of being able to clearly defy those the cushioned attempts at restraint which Biden does manage.
    – Pete W
    Apr 12 at 18:40
  • I really doubt the US voters are as anti-Israel as the current polls might suggest. Wording matters in the polls. Very few people that I've met that know what "River to the sea" means agree with it. It takes both sides to make peace. Hamas has stated their position clearly, multiple times, and recently. Voters that are interested enough in the issue to have it affect their vote will IMHO include that info when deciding.
    – DogBoy37
    Apr 13 at 14:40
  • 2
    @ItalianPhilosophers4Monica I believe Netanyahu is deliberately sabotaging Biden's presidential bid as he wants Trump elected. The only reason Netanyahu is still holding on to the PM's chair is because of the war he started. If the war ends now, it will immediately end his political career because he has nothing positive to show to the Israeli public - the IDF has killed many hostages, and Hamas cannot be wiped out. He needs this war to drag on to polarise more Israelis to politically survive. And he desperately needs some "wins" for propaganda. That is why he is provoking Iran to escalate (1)
    – sfxedit
    Apr 13 at 19:01
  • @ItalianPhilosophers4Monica the war. If Iran and its ally Hezbollah attack Israel, he can cling on to his chair some more. This will allow the war to drag on even longer and provide him with more propaganda. (Historically, even a minor military win has always benefited politicians in power). Trump really hates Iran and thus, is the most likely to do nothing to prevent this kind of escalation in the region. In fact, Trump may actually use the opportunity to end support for Ukraine and tell the US that Iran is a greater threat that needs to be dealt with "as he can reason with Putin".
    – sfxedit
    Apr 13 at 19:13
  • 2
    I think Hamas miscalculated doing 10/7 during election time. No POTUS can risk being seen over-critical of Israel then. And doubly so when you take into account 10/7's tally of atrocities. If they had "kept it down" to massacring soldiers and police, rather than civilians at scale they might have elicited much the same Israeli reaction, minus the much of the West recognizing that Hamas is, fundamentally, an extreme terrorist group that can't reasonably be negotiated with. Whatever else - and there is plenty - Israel falls short on wrt how it treats Palestinians. Apr 13 at 20:15
2

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2024/3/26/donald-trump-says-time-for-israel-to-finish-up-gaza-war

“You have to finish up your war,” Trump told the Israel Hayom in an interview that the right-wing newspaper said had been recorded over the weekend. “You have to finish it up, you got to get it done.”

I think it affect Biden more negatively than Trump, because most Republicans are pro-Israel and Trump is more pro-Israel than Biden, but he made it look like he wasn't necessarily more pro-Israel than Biden.

Republicans and Democrats also diverge in their views of Israel, with a majority of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (71%) saying they have a favorable view, compared with a minority of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents (44%). Views of Israel are particularly positive among conservative Republicans (75%) relative to more moderate or liberal Republicans (62%). Conservative and moderate Democrats (50%) are also more favorable toward Israel than liberal Democrats (36%).

https://www.pewresearch.org/global/2022/07/11/american-views-of-israel/

https://apnews.com/article/israel-palestinians-poll-biden-war-gaza-4159b28d313c6c37abdb7f14162bcdd1

As you can see, most Republicans don't think Israel went too far; however, independent who may vote for Trump are more aligned with the Democrats, so Biden truly has more to lose from this.

By not being completely pro-Israel, Donald Trump may gain independent voters from independents who are dissatisfied with Biden's policy unless he manages to end the war.

1

If we look beyond the two candidates, then Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is actively pro-Israel and makes statements in its support:
2024 candidate Kennedy questions Gaza ceasefire, Biden energy subsidies
Kennedy says any other nation would have leveled Gaza in Israel’s place

And, returning to the two principal candidates, apparently Kennedy's rhetoric threatens Biden more than Trump: How could a third-party candidate put Trump in the White House?

2
  • 4
    Write in candidates will be there anyway. Last elections there were more than 100 of them. The assumption that they will take more from Biden than from Trump seems a little bit far fetched and sounds like the usual story repeated over and over again every time there is a pending elections.
    – FluidCode
    Apr 12 at 12:13
  • 2
    @FluidCode Kennedy seems to be polling around 10% - in any democratic country this would be counted as an important third candidate. However, in the American system this would not necessarily translate in electoral votes. Apr 12 at 12:17

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .