The United States is closely watching the troubling developments in Israel. The abrupt, violent attack on Israelis by Hamas terrorists living in the Gaza Strip shocked Americans. Even though the conflict has just begun, the public has plenty to say about the Israeli war. According to a Rasmussen poll conducted Oct. 10-12, Democrats aren’t nearly as supportive of the Jewish state as they once were.
In a national survey of 1,007 likely voters, Rasmussen asked respondents how closely they’ve been following the events in the Israeli war. The atrocities caught their attention: 53% said very closely, while 31% said somewhat closely. Only 16% appeared to be dialed out of the troublesome attacks in the Jewish state.
When asked, “Which is closer to your opinion about the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians: That Israel is mostly to blame, that the Palestinians are mostly to blame, or that both sides are about equally to blame,” 53% said the guilty party is the Palestinians. Ten percent said the fault lies with Israel, while 24% said both sides are about equally responsible. Thirteen percent said they couldn’t decide.
Israeli War and the Eradication of Hamas
American public opinion is firmly behind the longtime US ally, but there is a surprising party split. When asked whether “Israel has no choice but to seek the complete eradication of Hamas in Gaza,” 66% agreed, with 41% maintaining they agreed strongly. Only 7% stalwartly disagreed that Hamas should be wiped off the face of the earth. A notable crosstab on this question reveals Republicans back Israel more than Democrats by a margin of 56% to 32%.
Historically, the American-Jewish community has sided and often voted with the Democratic Party. In 2020, the Pew Research Center found, “Seven-in-ten Jewish adults identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party, and half describe their political views as liberal.” However, these political views do not apply to Orthodox Jews. Sixty percent of Orthodox Jews describe themselves as politically conservative. Pew found that among the Orthodox subset, “75% identify as Republicans or lean toward the GOP, and 81% approved of Trump’s job performance at the time of the survey.”
According to the Pew study, only 26% of American Jews self-identified as leaning toward the Republican Party when the last presidential election took place. Here we are, only three years later and with the Israeli war raging, Democratic voters overall appear to be dropping their previous support of Israel. In the Rasmussen poll, 20% of Democrats and only 14% of Republicans said the United States is too supportive of Israel. Shockingly for Jewish Democrats, it was Republicans who answered all four questions in the Rasmussen survey with the most robust support of the Jewish state. This across-the-board political shift appears to be recent but clear.
Will US Jews Dump the Dems?
An exit poll conducted by the Jewish Middle East advocacy group J Street “showed Jews supporting Biden at 77 percent vs. 21 percent for Trump.” However, J Street is considered a liberal organization. Another poll by Associated Press discovered that 60.6% of American Jews voted for Joe Biden while Trump took a little over 30%. But the Rasmussen poll revealed an ideological shift is underway that might leave Jewish voters feeling cold about staying in a party that has little sympathy for a Jewish state under attack. Will US Jews cross over into the Republican Party in more significant numbers in 2024? As the figures show, they have every reason to abandon the Democrats in favor of the GOP.