Arab American support for Biden plummets over Gaza ahead of 2024 election

10:40 12.11.2023 •

At a pro-Palestinian march in Washington the streets swelled with demonstrators, and the crowd was dense.
Photo: The New York Times

As protests across the U.S. denounce President Biden for refusing to support a ceasefire in Gaza while arming Israel’s deadly bombardment of Palestine, polls conducted by the Arab American Institute reveal Biden’s support among Arab American voters is plummeting, dropping from 59% to 17% since the 2020 presidential election, notes American ‘The Democracy Now’.

“Something horrible is happening to these people, and this administration is turning a blind eye to it,” says James Zogby, the institute’s president. “There are going to be electoral consequences.” He argues the United States has “blown it” in the Middle East after decades of “disappointments.

“No ceasefire, no votes” and “In November, we remember,” those were two chants we heard Saturday in Washington at the largest rally in U.S. history for Palestinian rights. Protesters denounced President Biden for refusing to support a ceasefire in Gaza while sending more arms to Israel as it continues its monthlong bombardment that’s killed over 10,000 Palestinians, including 4,000 children. Polls show Biden’s support among Arab Americans is plummeting.

Arab Americans are not immune from what the rest of the culture is feeling, and that is that President Biden just is not in control of his own presidency and how he is being portrayed to the American people and to the world. They didn’t elect a Reaganite foreign policy advocate, a neocon who was fighting for freedom there to have freedom here, that kind of rhetoric that comes from the White House. They voted for somebody that focused on a whole bunch of domestic issues to bring domestic peace and tranquility after four years of Donald Trump. And that’s not what they’ve gotten.

When you get numbers that high, a flip that high or numbers in the 70% range on several questions, like support for a ceasefire, or how important is the Palestinian issue to you, or how disappointed are you with the president’s performance on this issue — all of those numbers were two-thirds or greater.

There was virtually no difference in terms of majorities, regardless of religion, regardless of whether born here or immigrant, or gender or age. Pretty much across the board, there’s frustration and deep disappointment with this president.

Can Biden win them back? The visceral reaction to this issue is so great that in order to do that, something dramatic has to come from the White House.  

And it’s not a given that young Arab American women, who want control over their bodies and their healthcare, that older Arab Americans, who want protection for their Medicare or an expansion of healthcare — it’s not clear that they are going to make the decision to vote at all, if they don’t have something to vote for. It worked the last time: “Vote for me because I’m not the other guy.” I’m not quite sure it will work this time.

The point is that it’s not just Arab Americans who are affected this way. It’s young people. It’s progressive Jews. It’s Black, Latino, Asian voters. There’s a significant decline that this president is encountering across the board. And Gaza is playing into it. It is a sort of a canary-in-the-coal-mine issue. It’s one that sort of is speaking to a broader sense of dissatisfaction.

And the White House has to get a handle on that, not just dismiss it, ‘The Democracy Now’ stresses.

Photo: AFP

The leaders of youth-led progressive groups published an open letter warning U.S. President Joe Biden that his administration’s staunch support for Israel’s war on Gaza — which many experts say may be genocidal — could cost him millions of young votes in next year’s presidential election.

“We mobilized the record youth turnout in 2020 that pushed your ticket over the finish line in key swing states. Many of us worked to provide the critical source of support for Democrats in the 2022 midterm elections that prevented the Red Wave. We have been preparing to mobilize the youth vote again as you face your reelection,” wrote the campaigners—who include leaders of groups like March for Our Lives, Gen Z for Change, and Sunrise Movement.

“We share your conviction that the 2024 election will be one of the most important in American history,” the letter states. “We write to you to issue a very stark and unmistakable warning: You and your administration’s stance on Gaza risks millions of young voters staying home or voting third party next year. We are pleading with you to use every tool available to you to broker a cease-fire, now, and to revive the peace process.”

 “We came of age during two decades of endless war that cost thousands of American lives and millions of lives around the world. We know that the longer you allow the siege of Gaza to continue, the greater the risk of this spiraling into a broader regional conflict, potentially pulling U.S. troops into combat or occupation. This would be both a moral and political disaster.”

Asserting that “there is no way for a Democratic presidential nominee to win without significant youth voter enthusiasm and mobilization,” the campaigners cited a recent Quinnipiac poll showing that nearly two-thirds of voters under age 35 oppose sending more U.S. military aid to Israel, while only about 1 in 5 respondents approve of Biden’s handling of the Israel-Hamas war.

“The same poll found your favorability rating among voters under 35 has fallen to just 25%,” the letter notes. “While young people are particularly opposed to handing the Israeli military a blank check, 80% of Democrats and 66% of all likely voters support a cease-fire.”

“The decisions you have made thus far surrounding Gaza have made it harder for us to convince our communities to organize and get out the vote in 2024. We urge you to reverse course as quickly as possible, the letter concludes. “Stand on the right side of history. Your legacy hangs in the balance,” the letter says.


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