Polls: US Jews back Biden’s handling of Gaza war; Americans as a whole, less so

One survey shows 74% of Jewish voters approve of administration’s treatment of Israel-Hamas conflict; two surveys show most Americans disapprove

US President Joe Biden speaks from the Oval Office of the White House, October 19, 2023, in Washington, about the wars in Israel and Ukraine. (Jonathan Ernst/Pool via AP)
US President Joe Biden speaks from the Oval Office of the White House, October 19, 2023, in Washington, about the wars in Israel and Ukraine. (Jonathan Ernst/Pool via AP)

Three polls this week asking the same question showed a stark contrast: A substantial majority of American Jews approve of US President Joe Biden’s handling of the Israel-Hamas war, while majorities of Americans disapprove.

The results appear to reflect both Jewish appreciation for Biden’s wholehearted support for Israel during the war and the tendency of Jewish voters to favor Democrats.

A poll released Thursday by the Jewish Electorate Institute found that 74 percent of Jewish registered voters approved of Biden’s handling of the war Hamas launched against Israel on October 7.

War erupted after Hamas’s October 7 massacre, which saw some 3,000 terrorists burst across the border into Israel from the Gaza Strip by land, air and sea, killing some 1,200 people and seizing over 240 hostages of all ages under the cover of a deluge of thousands of rockets fired at Israeli towns and cities. The vast majority of those killed as gunmen seized border communities were civilians. Entire families were executed in their homes, and over 260 people were slaughtered at an outdoor festival, many amid horrific acts of brutality.

A Marist poll conducted for public broadcasters NPR and PBS NewsHour and released Wednesday found that 53% of registered voters disapprove of how Biden is handling the war while 41% approve. A Quinnipiac University poll released the same day found that 54% disapprove and 37% approve.

Biden has strongly backed Israel in the war, earning protests from the far left, including some lawmakers in his Democratic Party.

But his low ratings for handling the war among registered American voters overall appear to reflect the polarization typical of American politics in recent years, in which partisans are not willing or able to approve of the other side’s leaders, even when they might support some of their policies.

Only 22% of Republicans, who otherwise tend to strongly favor Israel, approved of Biden’s handling of the war in the Quinnipiac poll, while 77% disapproved. The Marist poll showed similar numbers: 72% of Republicans disapproved and 23% approved of Biden’s handling of the war.

US President Joe Biden is greeted by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after arriving at Ben Gurion International Airport, Oct. 18, 2023, in Tel Aviv. Nearly half of Democrats disapprove of how Biden is handling the Israel-Hamas conflict, according to a new Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll. The war could complicate Biden’s reelection effort as he tries to balance factions of his party with very different views on the conflict. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

Jewish voters favored Biden’s handling of the war more strongly than Democrats did in general. While the Jewish Electorate Institute showed 74% of Jews approved of Biden’s handling, and 26% disapproved, both general polls, Marist and Quinnipiac, showed 60% approval among Democrats for Biden’s handling of the war. The Marist poll showed 34% of Democrats disapproved, as did 33% in the Quinnipiac poll.

Jews turned out in the tens of thousands on Tuesday in Washington to rally in support of Israel, and a Jewish Federations of North America poll last week showed that a vast majority of American Jews favor military assistance for Israel.

The Jewish Electorate Institute also reported that Jewish voters approved of Biden in much stronger numbers than the general electorate, a showing typical of a Jewish voter base that has for years favored Democrats by substantial majorities.

Whereas Jewish registered voters approved of Biden’s performance as president 66% to 34%, registered voters in general, the Quinnipiac poll showed, disapproved, 59% to 37%. The Marist poll had better news for Biden, but he was still underwater, with 42% of registered voters approving of his performance and 52% disapproving.

The Jewish Electorate Institute reached 800 Jewish registered voters by text between November 5-9 and had a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points. The institute is nonpartisan, but its board is comprised mostly of prominent Jewish Democrats. GBAO, which carried out the poll, works principally for Democrats and liberal groups.

Quinnipiac reached 1,574 registered voters on landlines and cell phones between November 9-13 and had a margin of error of 2.5 percentage points. Marist reached 1,293 registered voters between November 6 and 9 through landlines, cell phones and internet panels. Its poll had a margin of error of 3.6 percentage points.

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