Biden’s support among Arab Americans plummets amid Gaza war, new poll shows

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Pro-Palestinian demonstrators protest during a visit by US President Joe Biden to Warren, Michigan [File: Paul Sancya/AP Photo]

Forty percent of Arab Americans in key US swing states say they are ‘not enthusiastic at all’ about November’s election.

Washington, DC – Joe Biden’s support among Arab American voters in critical swing states has plummeted during the war in Gaza, a new poll found, in the latest sign that the United States president’s backing of Israel could hurt him in November’s election.

The Arab American Institute (AAI) poll released on Thursday showed Biden’s support among Arab Americans hovering at just under 20 percent.

Biden won nearly 60 percent of the Arab American vote in the 2020 US presidential election, which saw him defeat his Republican predecessor and 2024 challenger Donald Trump to win the White House.

James Zogby, president of the AAI, said Arab Americans are “still seething over the pain of Gaza”, where more than 36,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli military attacks since early October.

“And they’re not willing to put that away,” Zogby said during a webinar unveiling the poll’s findings. “Just because you say, ‘Don’t you remember four years ago how bad it was [under Trump]?’ They respond, ‘Don’t you see how bad it is right now?’”

Biden has faced months of protests and criticism for his unequivocal military and diplomatic support for Israel during the war in Gaza.

Despite growing anger over Israel’s offensive and warnings that he risks losing re-election over his stance, the US president’s policy remains largely unchanged.

Despite the Arab American community’s relatively small size – the AAI estimates about 3.7 million Arab Americans live in the country of about 333 million people – it remains a key voting bloc in several states that could decide the 2024 race.

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During the Democratic primaries, Biden faced an “uncommitted movement”, which saw Americans lodge protest votes to show their opposition to the administration’s policies on Gaza.

The campaign gained traction in several important states, including Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Those surveyed in Thursday’s AAI poll live in Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Virginia, all key states that could decide what is expected to be a neck-and-neck contest between Biden and Trump in November.

Of the Arab American voters polled, regardless of their party affiliations, 40 percent said they were “not enthusiastic at all” about the election.

An even higher percentage of Arab American voters aged 18 to 34 said the same at 47 percent, while 50 percent of Democratic Party voters also said they were “not enthusiastic at all”.

According to Zogby, this lack of enthusiasm should be particularly worrying for Biden, whose Democratic Party has historically enjoyed the support of young people, progressives, Black voters and other communities of colour.

“I’ve seen voters stay home more often than not when they don’t feel inspired,” Zogby said. “And so the binary choice that these voters will have in November is not Trump or Biden – it’s vote or not vote.”

Meanwhile, a recent New York Times/Siena Poll showed Biden lagging behind Trump in the key states of Michigan, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Georgia and Nevada.

Dipping support from young people and racial minorities was fuelled by several factors, including the cost of living and the war in Gaza, the poll found.

Earlier this month, a YouGov poll commissioned by Americans for Justice in Palestine Action also found that one in five Democratic and independent voters in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Arizona and Wisconsin said they were less likely to vote for Biden as a result of his Gaza policy.

The group called the number a potentially “critical margin”.

The war in Gaza was the top issue for Arab American voters surveyed in the latest AAI poll with 60 percent listing it as their top concern, followed by the cost of living.

About 57 percent of respondents also said Gaza will be “very important” in determining their vote in November.

All told, the AAI calculated that Biden could see a potential loss of 177,000 Arab American votes in the four states where the poll was conducted, compared with the 2020 election.

That includes a drop of 91,000 Arab American votes in Michigan, where Biden won the last election by just over 154,000 votes.

Zogby said the poll should serve as a warning to the president while noting that respondents said it wasn’t too late for him to change his policies.

About 80 percent of Arab American Democrats said they would be more likely to vote for Biden in November if he were to demand an immediate ceasefire and unimpeded aid into Gaza or suspend diplomatic support and arms transfers to Israel to force an end to the war.

“People want to see that the president in fact is hearing their concern and actually takes control,” Zogby said.

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA

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