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A Partisan Divide Remains on Israel/Palestine Despite War

UMD Critical Issues Poll Reveals American Attitudes on U.S. Role, Biden’s Stance

By Sala Levin ’10

barbed wire fencing with blurry flags for Palestine and Israel in the background

A new UMD Critical Issues Poll shows that Democrats and Republicans remain split on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, several weeks into the latest war.

Photo from iStock

As fighting intensified in the Israel-Hamas war, public opinion in the United States on the conflict remained split along partisan lines, according to a new University of Maryland Critical Issues Poll.

The poll of 1,021 respondents nationwide conducted with Ipsos found that 72% of Republicans want the U.S. to lean toward supporting Israel, while 57% of Democrats want the U.S. to lean toward neither side. It was fielded Oct. 20-22, two weeks after Hamas militants attacked Israeli civilians along the Gaza border, killing over 1,400 people and kidnapping hundreds of others, and in the midst of Israel’s military retaliation.

Anwar Sadat Professor for Peace and Development Shibley Telhami, a professor of government and politics and the poll’s director, said that attitudes are likely to continue shifting as conditions change on the ground.

“In this poll, taken two weeks into the Israel-Gaza war, we avoided asking specifically about the war, as we opted to track how U.S. public attitudes toward the Israeli-Palestinian issue broadly have been affected by the fighting, benefiting from the fact that we regularly track this issue and thus have the ability to compare the results over time,” said Telhami.

Support for Israel increased since June, the last time the Critical Issues Poll asked about the topic, but support for the Palestinians remained relatively constant since June. Democrats under age 35 remained equally supportive of Israel and the Palestinians, with no statistically significant change since June.

Asked to characterize the position of President Joe Biden, 40% of all respondents didn’t know, while 28% called it “about right.” Twenty-six percent of Republicans described Biden’s response as “too pro-Palestinian,” while 25% of Democrats said he was “too pro-Israel.”

Respondents were also asked whether they’d be more or less likely to vote for Biden’s re-election based on his stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, if elections were held today. Overall, more respondents (31%) said they were less likely to vote for Biden than said they are more likely to vote for him (14%). Fifty-nine percent of Democrats said they’d be neither more nor less likely, while 58% of Republicans said they’d be less likely to vote for Biden.

Read Telhami’s column about the poll on the website of the Brookings Institution, where he is a nonresident senior fellow-foreign policy at its Center for Middle East Policy.



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