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In new poll, Jewish voters express strong support for Biden on Israel

Tens of thousands of demonstrators gathered on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday for a pro-Israel march demanding the release of hostages being held in Gaza.
Sarah McCammon
/
NPR
Tens of thousands of demonstrators gathered on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday for a pro-Israel march demanding the release of hostages being held in Gaza.

Nearly three-quarters of Jewish Americans said they approve of President Biden's response to Israel's war against Hamas, in a new survey by the Jewish Electorate Institute, which calls itself "an independent, non-partisan organization dedicated to deepening the public's understanding of Jewish American participation in our democracy."

The survey of 800 Jewish voters was taken about a month after Hamas terrorist attacks against Israel left more than 1,200 people dead, according to the Israeli government. Israel has responded with attacks on Gaza that Palestinian officials say have killed more than 11,000 people.

Eighty percent of survey respondents also said they support a proposal to send more than $14 billion in U.S. military aid to Israel.

Some agreement across party lines, with a generation gap

Halie Soifer, CEO of the Jewish Democratic Council of America, a pro-Israel group that supports Democrats, says Biden's response to the war has garnered broad support from American Jews.

"Jewish voters are very supportive of the president's policy as it relates to Israel and how he's handling the war," she explained. "And that appears to even supersede any partisan divides."

While a strong majority of Jewish voters have historically voted for Democrats, Republican voters as a whole express stronger support for Israel. Republican presidential candidates have expressed staunch support for the war effort, including at the most recent primary debate, which was co-hosted by the Republican Jewish Coalition.

Soifer says support for Democrats remains strong despite what she called a "misconception...that somehow because Republicans have tried to politicize this, that Jewish voters may be leaving the Democratic Party or may be leaving their support of President Biden amid this crisis" - an idea she called "patently false."

The survey also revealed a significant generation gap in support for Biden's handling of the war. Voters over age 36 were far more supportive than younger voters, a trend that's also been showing up in the U.S. population as a whole.

Support for Biden, but not Netanyahu

President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu participate in an expanded bilateral meeting with Israeli and U.S. government officials, Oct. 18, 2023, in Tel Aviv.
Evan Vucci / AP
/
AP
President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu participate in an expanded bilateral meeting with Israeli and U.S. government officials, Oct. 18, 2023, in Tel Aviv.

Meanwhile, more than six in 10 Jewish voters expressed an unfavorable view of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose approval ratings in Israel have also fallen since the Hamas attack. Ninety-one percent also said they believe it's possible to be "pro-Israel" while criticizing Israeli government policies.

The overwhelming majority of Jewish voters surveyed, 93 percent, said they're worried about rising antisemitism, and more respondents said they trusted Biden and Democrats to fight antisemitism as compared with former President Donald Trump and Republicans.

Meanwhile, an NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll released this week shows that a growing numberAmericans - 38 % - believe Israel's military response to the Hamas attack has been too much. Most of the growth in that number came from Democrats. In that survey, another 38% thought Israel's response had been about right, and 17% said it was too little.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Sarah McCammon
Sarah McCammon is a National Correspondent covering the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast for NPR. Her work focuses on political, social and cultural divides in America, including abortion and reproductive rights, and the intersections of politics and religion. She's also a frequent guest host for NPR news magazines, podcasts and special coverage.
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