The U.S. president’s position on the Middle East conflict is alienating younger voters.
If the U.S. presidential election were to take place now, Joe Biden could lose to Donald Trump. That’s according to a New York Times/Siena poll conducted earlier this month that showed the incumbent president with less support than the former Republican leader in five key states. Now, another opinion poll, this time conducted NBC, shows that Biden’s approval rating has fallen to 40%.
Young voters are particularly unimpressed with the president. Seventy percent of them disapprove of his position on the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. This issue is starting to increasingly divide the entire Democratic Party, pushing away liberal voters as well as Arabic and Muslim voters.
Since the beginning of the war, the Biden administration has unconditionally supported Israel — one of the strongest U.S. allies in the Middle East. The U.S. is sending military and material aid to Tel Aviv despite the fact that 14,000 Palestinians, including 5,000 children, have died in Gaza, and more than 1 million people have lost their homes.
The Biden administration argues that Hamas must be defeated. “I’ve encouraged the Prime Minister [of Israel] — to focus on trying to reduce the number of casualties while he is attempting to eliminate Hamas, which is a legitimate objective he has. That’s a difficult task. … My expectation and hope is that, as we move forward, the rest of the Arab world and the region is also putting pressure on all sides to slow this down, to bring this to an end as quickly as we can,” the president said on Friday when the first group of hostages held by Hamas were released.
Releasing hostages as well as a four-day cease-fire between the Israeli military and Hamas, which the White House ascribes to its diplomatic activity — the first calm days in 1 1/2 months — is a positive breakthrough in Gaza policy. Yet, if the cease-fire is not extended, some voters will become completely disaffected with Biden.
Generation Z and millennials, i.e., those born between 1981 and 2012, tend to support Democratic candidates. It’s thanks to them that Biden won key states such as Michigan in 2020. Now however, those who do not favor such unconditional support for Israel are also the ones who have long expressed their doubts about whether Biden should hold office because of his age. This is the reason they are also skeptical about a likely election duel between Biden and Trump.
Since the conflict began, there have been large protests in support of Palestinians and against the war on university campuses as well as in major cities. “In past elections, I voted a straight ticket. But in this one, I feel like it’s probably not going to be that way,” a 21-year-old student from the University of Michigan told The Washington Post.
She and other students do not support Trump, but they are losing sympathy for Biden and are considering voting for an independent candidate.
The youngest voters are not the only group expressing its disappointment with the current administration. Progressive Democrats, Arabs, and Muslims living in the U.S. also think that Biden is not showing sufficient compassion for the Palestinians. This undermines the president’s chances for victory across the country, but above all, in one of the key states, Michigan, because this is where Muslims constitute a large majority of voters.
There is also a difference of opinion and growing dissatisfaction among members of Congress in the House and the Senate. The State Department has received significant feedback complaining about current U.S. policy in the Middle East.
Many congressional staffers working in Democratic offices are joining demonstrations calling for a cease-fire. Congress itself voted to censor Rashida Tlaib, a Palestinian Democratic representative, for speaking about the liberation of Palestine. Yet, an increasing number of Democrats in Congress are joining her appeals.
These are members of Congress from a younger generation who are more progressive and to a large extent people of color.. This is a group that “looks more and more like the future of the Democratic Party,” The Guardian says
The younger and demographically more diverse generation will certainly have a chance to mark its presence in Congress in the upcoming election. As many as 36 legislators from both parties, discouraged by dispute and the grueling negotiations over key bills, have announced that they will not be seeking another term. “The atmosphere is very different from the one when I started my career. There are a lot of members of Congress who just want to show up, rather than do something,”* Rep. Brad Wenstrup, a Republican from Ohio, told The Wall Street Journal.
*Editor’s Note: This quote, though accurately translated, could not be independently verified.