Pew: Partisan gap on Israel support is largest in 40 years

Pew: Partisan gap on Israel support is largest in 40 years

Survey finds 51% of Americans sympathize with Israel over the Palestinians in current conflict, but gulf between the parties is widening

American and Israeli flags in Jerusalem (photo credit: Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
American and Israeli flags in Jerusalem (photo credit: Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

WASHINGTON — With Palestinian rockets raining down on Israeli cities and the IDF striking targets in the Gaza Strip, a new poll has found that support for Israel over the Palestinians among US citizens remains high, but that support is an increasingly partisan issue. The Pew Center for People and the Press, which administered the survey, revealed Tuesday that the most recent poll indicates the largest partisan divide between Democrats and Republicans on the issue in forty years of polling.

According to a national survey conducted among 1,805 adults and published Tuesday, 51 percent of Americans support Israel more than the Palestinians in the current conflict, only 14% said they were more supportive of the Palestinian cause, while 15% said they identify with neither side in the ongoing conflict. Three percent of those polled said they sympathize equally with both Israel and the Palestinians.

Despite the strong overall support demonstrated in the study, the Pew Center for People and the Press wrote that “dating back to the late 1970s, the partisan gap in Mideast sympathies has never been wider.”

Among Republican voters, support for Israel grew by five percent, rising from 68% to 73% since a similar poll was conducted in April. The Pew poll found that among conservative and moderate Republicans, sympathy for Israel was at 77% and 64%. Only 6% of Republicans said they sympathize more with the Palestinians.

The Democratic voter base’s support for Israel remained largely unchanged, dropping 2% from 46% to 44% since the last poll, while 17% of Democrats said they backed the Palestinians. Only 39% of those who defined themselves as “liberal Democrats” were sympathetic to Israel.

Republican Jewish Committee Chairman Matt Brooks said that “for years, public opinion polls have documented the large gap in support for Israel between Republicans and Democrats, with Republicans being far more supportive of Israel. This poll shows a gap of 27 points.”

Brooks noted that “fewer than half of the Democrats polled say they have more sympathy for Israel than for the Palestinians,” adding that the data represents “a sad and sobering confirmation of the Democrat Party’s shift over time away from support of Israel, especially at its grassroots.”

“If support for Israel ceases to be bipartisan, the US-Israel relationship – which is of so much benefit to both countries – will suffer,” he warned.

Among independents, forty five percent said they side more with Israel, while 17% supported the Palestinians.

However, the poll found significant differences of opinion regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict among different age groups in the US. Consistently, less than half of those aged 30-49 (47%) as well as those under the age of 30 (44%) stated their support for Israel. In comparison, 56% of those aged 50-64 and 60% of those older than 65 said they identified with Israel more than the Palestinians.

The survey was conducted by interviewers at Princeton Data Source under the direction of Princeton Survey Research Associates International.

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