By Andrea Shalal
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Joe Biden’s support among Arab Americans, who are crucial voters in battleground election states, has plunged from a comfortable majority in 2020 to just 17%, a new poll shows, amid growing anger over the Democratic president’s support for Israel’s attacks on Gaza.
Arab American support for Biden, at 59% in 2020, fell even before the outbreak of violence in the Middle East to 35%, the poll commissioned by the Arab American Institute showed, but has halved since.
The poll, released Tuesday, marks the first time since its inception in 1997 that a majority of Arab Americans did not identify as Democrats – 32% now identify as Republicans and 31% as independents. Forty percent of those polled said they would vote for former President Donald Trump, the likely Republican candidate in 2024, up 5 percentage points from 2020.
The poll is the latest evidence that Biden’s campaign for a second term in office is rapidly losing Muslim and Arab Americans support over his staunch support of Israel. These voters have traditionally voted for Democratic candidates and are prominent in hotly contested states like Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania, that could decide the 2024 presidential election.
A quarter of Arab Americans said they were unsure whom they would support in 2024; 13.7% said they would back Robert F. Kennedy Jr., and 3.8% are backing Cornel West.
Only 20% of Arab Americans would rate Biden’s job performance as “good,” the poll showed, with 66% reporting a negative view of the president overall.
Sixty-eight percent of Arab Americans believed the United States should not send weapons and military equipment to Israel and believed the U.S. should use its influence with Israel to call for a ceasefire, it said.
Majorities are concerned about rising antisemitism (67%) and anti-Arab bigotry (78%), and 59% report experiencing discrimination, a jump of 6% since the last poll in April.
The poll showed that 45% of Arab Americans were concerned about their personal safety due to the recent violence in Israel and Palestine.
CONTEXTMany Arab and Muslim Americans say they feel betrayed by Biden’s financial, political and military support for Israel’s attacks on the Gaza Strip after an Oct. 7 attack by Hamas militants that Israeli officials say killed 1,400 people and took 239 hostages.
Medical authorities in Gaza on Tuesday said 8,525 people, including 3,542 children, had been killed in Israel’s three-week-old air and ground onslaught.
The poll was conducted by John Zogby Strategies of 500 Arab Americans with some answering online only. The poll has a margin of error of 4.9 percentage points.
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Heather Timmons and Nick Zieminski)