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Democrats say Biden and members of Congress lean towards Israel greater than they do

Earlier polls have proven a large hole between Democratic Occasion constituents, on the one hand, and the positions of elected congressional Democrats and the Biden administration, on the opposite, relating to U.S. coverage towards the Israeli-Palestinian battle. As our new College of Maryland Vital Points Ballot exhibits, this features a cut up on the query of boycotting Israel. However is the general public conscious of the hole? And does it matter for electoral politics?

In a Might 2022 Vital Points Ballot of two,091 respondents, fielded by Nielsen Scarborough, we requested how respondents perceived the place of the Biden administration on the Israeli-Palestinian subject, in comparison with their very own. Not surprisingly, a little bit over half (54%) didn’t know. However most Democrats who expressed an opinion stated that the administration’s positions leaned towards Israel greater than their very own, whereas most Republicans stated the Biden administration was leaning extra towards Palestine than they had been. Total, 44% of Republicans stated the administration was leaning extra towards Palestine, and 9% stated it was leaning extra towards Israel, whereas 26% of Democrats stated the Biden staff was leaning extra towards Israel, and three% stated it was leaning extra towards Palestine.

Over half of Americans don’t know the position of the Biden administration on the Israeli-Palestinian issue

Equally, we requested concerning the positions of the respondents’ elected congressional representatives. Right here too, a majority, 56%, stated “don’t know,” however a majority of those that expressed opinions stated their representatives had been leaning towards Israel greater than they had been personally. Strikingly, about half of Republicans — who’ve been proven on common to precise strongly pro-Israel views — with an opinion (23%) stated their consultant had been leaning extra towards Israel than they had been. Solely 15% stated the representatives leaned extra towards the Palestinians (15%). Amongst Democrats who had an opinion, 33% stated their representatives had been leaning towards Israel greater than they had been, whereas 3% stated their representatives had been leaning extra towards the Palestinians.

A majority of Americans don’t know the position of elected congressional representatives on the Israeli-Palestinian issue

Attitudes towards the BDS motion

Our ballot additionally discovered that two-thirds of Democrats needed the USA to lean neither towards Israel, nor towards the Palestinians; amongst those that needed the U.S. to take sides, extra Democrats, particularly younger Democrats, needed the U.S. to take the aspect of the Palestinians than Israel’s. Probably the most controversial points in American political discourse concerning the Israeli-Palestinian subject has been the query of boycotts of Israel, particularly the boycott, divestment, sanctions (BDS) motion. We sought to probe attitudes on this subject.

Latest polls about BDS have been constant: A big majority of Individuals haven’t heard of BDS. Among the many minority of those that have heard of it, extra Republicans oppose it than assist it, whereas extra Democrats assist it than oppose it.

In our latest Vital Points Ballot carried out June 22-28, 2022 amongst 2,208 respondents, we requested a single query about BDS to all contributors, with out probing first to see who had heard of it and who had not, whereas offering respondents with the choice of “don’t know.” In reality, that’s typical of polling typically, as one assumes that those that don’t know concerning the subject can be supplied the choice of “I don’t know.” The potential benefit of asking everyone seems to be that the solutions might give further hints concerning the course of opinion. For instance, even somebody who had not heard of the motion might surmise from the query that BDS is probably going about boycotting Israel and supply an instinctive reply. To check this concept, we requested: “What’s your place, when you’ve got one, on the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) motion aimed toward Israel?”

The solutions had been telling. Solely 34% stated they didn’t know, whereas one other 18% stated they neither supported or opposed BDS. Almost half supplied supportive or opposing opinions. The breakdown alongside occasion traces was related: 50% of Republicans strongly or considerably opposed BDS, whereas 9% supported it; on the similar time, 33% of Democrats supported BDS whereas 10% opposed it.

While large numbers of Americans have not heard of BDS, far more Republicans oppose it than support it, and far more Democrats support it than oppose it

A month earlier, in our Might ballot, we had adopted a special strategy, just like that of the Pew Analysis Heart in a ballot fielded in March and launched in Might, with related outcomes. Although the questions and classes weren’t an identical, permitting for precise comparisons, they had been shut sufficient to counsel related tendencies. Like Pew, we first requested respondents if that they had heard of BDS: “How a lot have you ever heard about BDS, or the boycott, divestment, and sanctions motion aimed toward Israel?” We then requested solely those that stated that they had heard of it at the least “a little bit” about their opinion: “Based mostly on what you could have heard, do you assist or oppose BDS, or the boycott, divestment, and sanctions motion?”

We too discovered that a big quantity, 70%, had not heard of BDS. Measured attitudes additionally mirrored related tendencies: Amongst those that had heard of BDS, extra Republicans, 77% (strongly or considerably), opposed it than supported it, 5%; whereas extra Democrats, 43%, supported it than opposed it, 15%.

In brief, completely different polls, with various methodologies, have been constant in suggesting that, whereas massive numbers of Individuals haven’t heard of BDS, much more Republicans oppose it than assist it, and much more Democrats assist it than oppose it.

Individuals strongly oppose legal guidelines criminalizing boycotts of Israel

No matter whether or not they assist or oppose boycotts of Israel, do Individuals assist legal guidelines criminalizing the boycott of Israel? This query has turn out to be particularly related as various American states have handed legal guidelines doing simply that. A few of these actions have been challenged in courtroom, and one case is on its method to the Supreme Court docket. However how do Individuals really feel?

In our Might ballot, we fielded the next query: “no matter whether or not you personally assist or oppose the boycott of Israel. Which of the next is nearer to your view?

  1. We must always SUPPORT legal guidelines that penalize individuals who boycott Israel
  2. We must always OPPOSE legal guidelines that penalize individuals who boycott Israel

The outcomes had been hanging: Two-thirds of Individuals — together with 52% of Republicans, 82% of Democrats, and 74% of independents — oppose such legal guidelines, whereas 32% assist them.

Two-thirds of Americans, including a slight majority of Republicans, oppose laws criminalizing the boycott of Israel

On this subject, the Biden administration doesn’t deviate a lot from the general public sentiment because it has stated that, whereas it opposes boycotting Israel and would oppose BDS efforts in Congress, it helps the proper of Individuals to take action. Internationally, nonetheless, the administration has taken a extra aggressive posture, the place it has vowed to “fight all efforts to boycott or de-legitimize Israel,” together with on the stage of the United Nations.


Regardless of the causes, the hole on Israel/Palestine between the general public and elected congressional officers stays excessive however had considerably narrowed after the 2018 and 2020 elections that resulted within the election of some members of Congress who appeared extra reflective of Democratic public opinion on this subject. In Democratic politics, the related enviornment on this subject is the primaries, provided that Republicans overwhelmingly favor Israel, and even Democratic voters strongly supportive of Israel are unlikely to vote for a Republican candidate within the normal election if the Democratic contender’s place on Israel/Palestine doesn’t match their very own. This will clarify why the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) has been spending tens of millions of {dollars} within the present main cycle to defeat candidates deemed not sufficiently pro-Israel, whereas working to elect others who’re. And provided that the Democratic public needs the U.S. to be extra even-handed on Israel/Palestine, generally, the pro-Israel tremendous PACs taking part in in these races don’t point out the rationale of their mission or adverts.

The hole between the Biden administration and the Democratic public on Israel/Palestine stays large — and the general public perceives it. The Israel-Palestinian subject isn’t presently a precedence in American politics. Even precedence overseas coverage points, such because the Russia-Ukraine struggle, have been proven to have little affect on the American partisan divide. However that doesn’t imply that these points haven’t any consequence for the recognition of the administration. It’s notable that in an period of deep political polarization, a lot of the drop in President Joe Biden’s recognition since spring 2021 has come from Democrats. Certain, most Democrats won’t vote for a Republican opponent, even when they aren’t excited concerning the president. However the extent to which they see the president’s values and insurance policies as equivalent to or conflicting with their very own issues for the diploma to which they’re energized. And the general drop in recognition consequently impacts the evaluations of non-Democrats. As I famous after the Might 2021 Gaza struggle, Biden’s decidedly pro-Israel place was at odds together with his Democratic constituents, lots of whom disapproved of his dealing with of the problem. The simultaneous drop in his recognition got here principally from Democrats (as did the latest drop). There are numerous causes for the drop in recognition, most of which have little to do with overseas coverage. However Biden’s divergence from his Democratic constituents on Israel/Palestine certainly received’t assist.



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