With pro-Palestinian protests continuing to rage across America, there are growing questions about the divisions within and between U.S. political views regarding Israel and the Middle East.
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Data compiled by Gallup earlier this year and released in March shed important light on where Democrats, Republicans, and independents recently stood on Israel and Palestine — and the findings, especially in light of the current Israel war, are truly telling.
For the first time, Democrats were found to be more sympathetic to Palestine than Israel, an 11-point shift that deeply differentiates the political persuasion from its counterparts. According to Gallup, 49% of Democrats are more sympathetic to Palestine, with just 38% expressing affinity toward Israel.
“At the same time, the percentages sympathizing more with the Israelis (38%) and those not favoring a side (13%) have dipped to new lows,” the polling firm noted.
While independents expressed a new “high” for sympathies directed toward Palestine, this proportion came in at just 32%, with 49% expressing more support for Israel. Meanwhile, 19% selected neither, both, or had no opinion on the matter.
As for Republicans, 78% expressed their sympathies were more with the Israelis than the Palestinians, with just 11% opting for the latter. An additional 11% had no opinion, selected neither, or chose both.
These statistics, found months before the Oct. 7 Hamas terror attack on Israel, certainly matter, though new polls in the wake of the horror show potential shifts.
Regardless, as a backdrop, the Gallup numbers will likely color the public discussion and debate as the Israel war progresses and the emotions affixed to recent news reports and realities on the ground transform or dissipate.
For the moment, new surveys capture some of the current sentiment for Israel — and these polls emerge as colleges have been one of the many focal points for angst. Reports show students and select faculty have rallied or made statements essentially blaming Israel for the violence Hamas perpetuated.
But a poll from Generation Lab found this isn’t the majority view. In fact, 67% of two- and four-year students believe the attack was terrorism at the hands of Hamas. Just 12% see it as justified resistance and 21% view it as something other than resistance or terror.
The general public shares a similar presumption. CNN crunched some of the numbers from other recent polls conducted after the terror attacks and noticed some significant shifts.
A Quinnipiac University survey found just 13% of registered voters said their sympathy is more with Palestine than Israel, with 61% selecting Israel instead. This was notably the highest percentage of Israeli support since the question was first asked by Quinnipiac in 2001.
In that same poll, 48% of Democratic voters handed their sympathies to Israel, with 22% throwing their compassion toward Palestinians. CNN noted this is a massive change from May 2021, when these numbers were inverted, with 46% of Democrats choosing Palestine and 23% selecting Israel.
Another survey from CBS News/YouGov found sweeping support for Israel, with 32% expressing the belief President Joe Biden hasn’t “shown enough” support for Israel. An additional 44% said he showed the “right amount,” and 24% said Biden’s statements and actions have shown “too much support.”
The survey results were released hours before Biden, who had just returned from a trip to Israel, delivered a primetime address Thursday night, urging Congress to pass military aid for Ukraine and Israel.
Biden decried Hamas, claiming the terror group “unleashed pure unadulterated evil in the world” and requested nearly $100 billion to cover Ukraine and Israel efforts.
All-in-all, it’s not shocking that current events — especially in light of the diabolical evil perpetuated by Hamas — would shift sympathies. However, as stated, it will be essential to continue monitoring views as the situation progresses and facts change on the ground.
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