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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Enten: Widening Age Gap on Opinions Re Israel, Gaza

In his CNN Politics article, “Polling shows a huge age gap divides the Democratic Party on Israel,” Harry Enten writes: ”

Take a look at a recent Quinnipiac University poll on the topic. Biden’s approval rating for his handling of the Israel-Hamas War among Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters is just 56%. Compare that to his 76% approval rating among Democratic voters for his overall job performance.

A significant minority of Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters (36%) disapprove of his handling of the war. Those voters tend to be young….The lion’s share (69%) of Democrats and Democratic-leaning younger than 35 disapprove of how Biden is responding to the war. Just 24% approve. It’s the inverse among older Democrats. Most Democrats 65 and older (77%) approve of Biden on this issue. Few (16%) disapprove.

….When asked which side they sympathize with, Israelis or Palestinians, more, Democrats younger than 35 are far more likely to sympathize with Palestinians (74%) than Israelis (16%). Democrats 65 and older are somewhat more likely to side with Israelis (45%) than Palestinians (25%).

Enten notes further, “The large divide by age causes Democrats and Democratic leaning voters overall to split basically evenly, with 39% sympathizing with Palestinians and 35% with Israelis….This is a massive shift from the beginning of the Israel-Hamas War, when Democrats were more likely to sympathize with Israel by a 48% to 22% margin. That poll was taken in the immediate aftermath of a surprise terrorist attack by Hamas on October 7 that killed about 1,200 people. Since that time, Israel has mounted an offensive in Gaza, and the Hamas-controlled Ministry of Health says more than 10,000 Palestinians have died.”

Enten adds,

Most Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters (70%) believe that supporting Israel is in the national interest. This includes 87% of those 65 and older….Democrats younger than 35 see things entirely differently. Just 40% think backing Israel is in the national interest of this country. The majority (52%) disagree.

Perhaps not surprisingly, these younger Democrats don’t think we should be supplying military aid to Israel in its war with Hamas. A mere 21% agree that we should, while 77% are against it. Older Democrats are for it by a 53% to 32% margin….In total, Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters were 49% in opposition to 44% in support….Voters overall, on the other hand, are 53% in support to 39% opposed for more military aid for Israel.


All voters by a 54% to 24% margin sympathized more with Israelis than Palestinians. Voters, including Democrats, Republicans and independents, by a 73% to 19% margin said backing Israel was in the national interest of America.

Biden’s problem is that he likely needs more support from younger voters heading into the 2024 election. He won voters younger than 35 by more than 20 points in 2020. Today, his lead over former President Donald Trump is in the low single digits in an average of recent polling ahead of a potential rematch.

It’s not clear that Biden’s handling of the war is causing his decreased backing from younger voters, but it can’t be helping him.

And there is no way of knowing how important this issue will be to American voters a year from now. In our highly-polarized electorate, the biggest issue in November 2024 could be inflation or democracy or Trump’s legal disasters or his mental health, or gun control. As large as the issue looms now, it may be a fading memory late next year.

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