Pro-Palestinian demonstrators protest in Dearborn

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators protest in Dearborn, Michigan as U.S. President Joe Biden attends a dinner in Detroit on May 19, 2024.

(Photo: Jeff Kowalsky/AFP via Getty Images)

Biden Could Win Back Key Voters With Cease-Fire, Conditioning Israeli Aid: Poll

The president "can win over votes with a serious change" in his Gaza policy, said a leader at AJP-Action, which commissioned the survey.

Polling results released Tuesday offer U.S. President Joe Biden's campaign even more evidence that his support for Israel's assault on the Gaza Strip—which critics around the world have condemned as "genocidal" and a "crime against humanity"—is politically fraught, especially given the stakes in this election year.

As Israel has decimated the Palestinian enclave since the Hamas-led October 7 attack, polls and political observers have suggested that the Democrat's support for the war risks losing votes he needs to beat former Republican President Donald Trump in November.

The new poll was commissioned by Americans for Justice in Palestine-Action (AJP-Action), which lobbies for Palestinian rights. YouGov surveyed Democratic and Independent voters in five swing states Biden won in 2020: Arizona, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

"It's clear that Palestine is a critical issue in key battleground states," said Ayah Ziyadeh, director of advocacy for AJP-Action, in a statement. "It's not a passing protest effort that the Democratic Party can continue to ignore; people want an end to this war and a key margin of them will vote that way. But Biden can win over votes with a serious change in policy."

Specifically, the pollsters found that across the five key states, about 40% of potential Biden voters disapprove of the president's handling of the war—and 1 in 5 of all surveyed are less likely to vote for him because of it.

While Biden has slowly increased his criticism of Israel's "indiscriminate bombing" of Gaza—where the death toll is now 35,647—and threatened to withhold some weapons, his administration has largely backed the war and boosted arms support for Israel, which already received nearly $4 billion in annual military aid from the United States before October 7.

The survey also shows that around 40% of respondents would be more likely to vote for Biden this year if he conditioned military aid to Israel or imposed an immediate and permanent cease-fire. In all five states, it's over 40% if those policies are combined; that's also the case for enabling full entry of humanitarian aid to Gaza.

All of the states had some form of an "uncommitted" campaign for the Democratic primary—because the president didn't face any strong Democratic challengers, voters took the opportunity to call on Biden to end U.S. complicity in genocide and use his leverage to pressure Israel to stop slaughtering civilians in Gaza.

A majority of respondents in all five states said they somewhat or strongly supported the uncommitted campaign. The highest figure was in Pennsylvania (63.1%), where the largest shares of voters also said they would be more willing to vote for Biden if he imposed a cease-fire (45.8%), conditioned aid to Israel (46.6%), pursued both of those policies (48.2%), or enabled full entry of humanitarian aid (48.7%).

As The Interceptnoted Tuesday, Pennsylvania is "home to Democratic Sen. John Fetterman, who has been one of Israel's most vocal supporters in Congress," as well as Democratic Congresswoman Summer Lee, an outspoken critic of the Israeli government and war who won her primary last month.

"Pennsylvanians, like folks across the country, are horrified by the continued violence being perpetrated by the Israeli government in Gaza and the West Bank, and want to see their leaders fight back against having our taxpayers' dollars fund more death and destruction," Lee told the outlet. "We must listen to them."

The AJP-Action survey follows polling released earlier this month in which approximately 13% of respondents across Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin who backed Biden last cycle but would not do so this year cited his foreign policy or Israel's war on Gaza as the top issues informing their vote.

Another survey published earlier this month shows that 56% of Democrats and nearly 40% of all voters nationwide believe Israel is committing genocide against Palestinians. A majority also said they support suspending all U.S. arms sales to the country until it stops blocking U.S. humanitarian aid from entering Gaza.

Gallup polling from March revealed that 75% of Democratic voters disapproved of "the military action Israel has taken in Gaza." In another survey the previous month, just under 60% of all voters said Biden is not handling "the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas" well.

"What is certain is that the war in Gaza has turned into an electoral issue this year," AJP-Action executive director Osama Abu Irshaid said Tuesday, as his group's survey bolstered previous results. "What this opinion poll suggests is that President Biden cannot continue to ignore the convictions and demands of a large segment of the Democratic electoral base if he wants to maintain his chances of winning the upcoming November elections."

"A large percentage of Democrats oppose Biden's handling of the Israeli war in Gaza—and an even larger percentage of them want to see a real change toward an immediate and permanent cease-fire," he added. "Either Biden does the morally and politically right thing and preserves his chances in the November elections, or he continues on the current path and risks jeopardizing his reelection bid."

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