WASHINGTON (JTA) — Younger voters are less likely to back Israel, support among Democrats for Israel’s conduct has declined and Americans overall are wary of being drawn into a Middle East war.
Those are three takeaways from a series of polls on Israel, the Palestinians and the war in Gaza that have been published in the more than three weeks since Hamas attacked Israel on October 7. In that onslaught, Hamas terrorists killed 1,400 people — most of them civilians, massacred amid brutal atrocities — wounded thousands, took more than 200 captives and sparked a war in which Israel’s stated goal is to depose the terror group, which controls the Gaza Strip.
The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry says Israeli strikes have killed more than 8,000 Palestinians. However, these figures cannot be independently verified and are believed to include Hamas members, as well as civilians killed by misfired rockets that fell within the coastal enclave.
Israeli casualties are mounting as its military deepens a ground invasion of Gaza.
A poll published Thursday by Quinnipiac demonstrated the stark age divide. Respondents were asked, “Do you approve or disapprove of the way Israel is responding to the October 7th Hamas terrorist attack?” Half approved and 35 percent disapproved overall. But only 32% of respondents aged 18-34 approved of Israel’s response, as opposed to about 58% of those aged 50 and older.
Respondents also were worried about antisemitism, with reports showing that it has spiked in recent years and increased even more dramatically since October 7. When asked, “How serious a problem do you think that prejudice against Jewish people is today,” 38% said it was very serious and 37% said it was somewhat serious.
The Quinnipiac poll was conducted on October 26, reaching 1,610 voters by phone, and had a margin of error of 2.4%.
Polls taken closer to the Hamas invasion found greater support overall for Israel, but that backing still diminished rapidly as respondents dropped in age.
An October 8-10 poll by the Economist/YouGov asked, “In the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, are your sympathies more with…” and found a 42%-9% divide overall in favor of Israel. “About equal,” a possible response in that poll, got 22%. But for those aged 18-29, 25% sympathized more with Israel, 19% with the Palestinians, and 25% “about equal.” For those 65 and above, 62% favored Israel, 3% favored the Palestinians and 18% responded “about equal.” That poll reached 1,500 adults online and has a margin of error of 3 percentage points.
The Economist/YouGov poll and a Fox poll taken from October 7-9 also show greater support among Democratic voters for Israel at the outset of the war, which dropped precipitously by the time Quinnipiac asked its questions late last week.
The Fox poll, which had a margin error of 3.5%, showed Democrats siding with Israel over the Palestinians 59% to 25%, while Republicans sided with Israel 79% to 11%. The YouGov poll showed 26% of Democrats sympathizing with Israel, 15% sympathizing with the Palestinians and 26% saying they sympathized equally with both. (For Republicans in the YouGov poll, the numbers are 64% sympathizing with Israel, 3% sympathizing with the Palestinians, and 13% sympathizing equally with both.)
Three weeks later, Quinnipiac, asking whether respondents approve or disapprove of Israel’s response, found that 49% of Democrats disapprove while 33% approve. Three-quarters of Republicans approve, while 14% disapprove.
While US President Joe Biden’s administration has provided weaponry and diplomatic support to Israel, both he and his Israeli counterparts have said that Israeli troops alone will fight the war. The Quinnipiac poll suggests Americans may not trust that assurance. Asked “How concerned are you that the United States will be drawn into a military conflict in the Middle East,” 43% of respondents said they were very concerned and 41% said they were somewhat concerned — a total of 84%.
Other polls provide a mixed picture of how Americans feel about Biden’s vocal support for Israel. A NewsNation/Decision Desk HQ poll of 1,000 registered voters from October 23 and 24 found that 52% approved of Biden’s handling of the war between Israel and Hamas.
But a poll from October 18 and 19 from the left-leaning Data for Progress found that 66% of all respondents, and majorities of Republicans, Democrats and independents, agreed with the statement, “The US should call for a ceasefire and a de-escalation of violence in Gaza. The US should leverage its close diplomatic relationship with Israel to prevent further violence and civilian deaths.”
That poll surveyed 1,329 likely voters and had a margin of error of 3%. Both Biden and Israel have rejected calls for a ceasefire, which would leave Hamas in power.