WASHINGTON — Three polls this week asking the same question showed a stark contrast: A substantial majority of American Jews approve of President Joe Biden’s handling of the Israel-Hamas war, while majorities of Americans disapprove.
The results appear to reflect both Jewish appreciation for Biden’s wholehearted support for Israel during the war and the tendency of Jewish voters to favor Democrats.
A poll released Thursday by the Jewish Electorate Institute found that 74% of Jewish registered voters approved of Biden’s handling of the war Hamas launched against Israel on Oct. 7.
A Marist poll conducted for public broadcasters NPR and PBS News Hour and released Wednesday found that 53% of registered voters disapprove of how Biden is handling the war while 41% approve. A Quinnipiac University poll released the same day found that 54% disapprove and 37% approve.
Biden has strongly backed Israel in the war, earning protests from the far left, including some lawmakers in his Democratic Party.
But his low ratings for handling the war among registered American voters overall appear to reflect the polarization typical of American politics in recent years, in which partisans are not willing or able to approve of the other side’s leaders, even when they might support some of their policies.
Only 22% of Republicans, who otherwise tend to strongly favor Israel, approved of Biden’s handling of the war in the Quinnipiac poll, while 77% disapproved. The Marist poll showed similar numbers: 72% of Republicans disapproved and 23% approved of Biden’s handling of the war.
Jewish voters favored Biden’s handling of the war more strongly than Democrats did in general. While the Jewish Electorate Institute showed 74% of Jews approved of Biden’s handling, and 26% disapproved, both general polls, Marist and Quinnipiac, showed 60% approval among Democrats for Biden’s handling of the war. The Marist poll showed 34% of Democrats disapproved, as did 33% in the Quinnipiac poll.
Jews turned out in the tens of thousands on Tuesday in Washington to rally in support of Israel, and a Jewish Federations of North America poll last week showed that a vast majority of American Jews favor military assistance for Israel.
The Jewish Electorate Institute also reported that Jewish voters approved of Biden in much stronger numbers than the general electorate, a showing typical of a Jewish voter base that has for years favored Democrats by substantial majorities.
Whereas Jewish registered voters approved of Biden’s performance as president 66% to 34%, registered voters in general, the Quinnipiac poll showed, disapproved, 59% to 37%. The Marist poll had better news for Biden, but he was still underwater, with 42% of registered voters approving of his performance and 52% disapproving.
The Jewish Electorate Institute reached 800 Jewish registered voters by text between Nov. 5-9 and had a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points. The institute is nonpartisan, but its board is comprised mostly of prominent Jewish Democrats. GBAO, which carried out the poll, works principally for Democrats and liberal groups.
Quinnipiac reached 1,574 registered voters on land lines and cell phones between Nov. 9-13 and had a margin of error of 2.5 percentage points. Marist reached 1,293 registered voters between Nov. 6 and 9 through landlines, cell phones and internet panels. Its poll had a margin of error of 3.6 percentage points.