A series of New York Times Polls released Sunday is likely to exacerbate concerns among some Democrats about the political fallout from Biden’s handling of the conflict. Those polls showed Biden trailing former President Donald Trump in five of six battleground states among registered voters.
According to surveys, voters in swing states have serious reservations about Biden’s handling of the economy — generally much more important to voters than world affairs — as well as his age. But foreign policy is also a weak point for Biden, and some Democrats believe it exacerbates Biden’s other vulnerabilities, particularly among young and non-white voters.
Times polls show that registered voters in battleground states trust Trump over Biden in handling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by a margin of 11 percentage points. Voters under 30, like the broader electorate, prefer Trump to handle the issue by 10 points. And voters under 30 in swing states support Biden by just a single percentage point, according to Times surveys. In comparison, Biden carried young voters by 24 points nationally in 2020, according to exit polls.
Biden’s standing is slightly better among likely voters in the Times poll, as opposed to registered voters, perhaps because some Americans frustrated with the president are reportedly not entering the race. For example, Biden is behind Trump in four of six states with likely voters, and likely voters under 30 support Biden by 6 points.
But even with a slightly better election filter, the results still paint a bleak picture for the president.
“How could (the war) not have an impact on the way people, especially young Americans, view themselves, their president and their country? said John Della Volpe, director of polling at the Harvard Kennedy School Institute of Politics, who advised Biden’s 2020 campaign team and remains a trusted outside voice for the White House. “To suggest otherwise, I think, is a misinterpretation of what young people have been telling us for years: that this is what drives them to serve and to vote, that is, to protect the vulnerable. »
Sunday’s New York Times poll set off a familiar wave of panic and rejection among Biden’s — and the war’s — most vocal defenders. Bill Kristol, a prominent foreign policy hawk, called Biden to announce that he will not run again in 2024. David Frum, who has traveled a similar path to Kristol, noted that former President Barack Obama was underwater in 2011 before winning re-election.
But there are clear distinctions between today’s political landscape and that of a dozen years ago.
Among them, the situation in Gaza.
In recent days, Muslim and Arab American leaders warned Biden’s top aides that the president’s wartime policies could harm him in 2024 among voters in their communities and progressive allies. Although they represent only a small portion of the electorate nationally, Arab American voters can be a critical voting bloc in close elections, particularly in the swing state of Michigan.
Wa’el Alzayat, CEO of the Muslim advocacy group Emgage, said his group and others have taken their concerns directly to the Biden campaign. He said he was not worried about Muslim voters voting for Trump — who embraced reinstating and expanding a so-called Muslim ban — but rather that they remained completely absent from the race.
“These figures reflect the communities that oppose the management of this war. …I absolutely believe they lost the progressives. They lost young people. They probably lost a good part of the black community and, like now, the entire Arab-Muslim community,” he said. “We’re 12 months away, so it’s hard to know where they’re going to be, but this is just a snapshot of where the country is right now.”
The Biden campaign downplayed the idea that the Times poll represented a harbinger of coming electoral catastrophe, brushing aside variations of Frum’s comparison to Obama.
“Forecasts more than a year out tend to be a little different a year later. Don’t take our word for it: Gallup predicted an eight-point loss for President Obama, but he would win (hands down) a year later,” said campaign spokesman Kevin Munoz. “Or a year away from the 2022 midterm elections, when every major media outlet was similarly forecasting dire predictions for President Biden. … We will win in 2024 by putting our heads down and doing the work, not worrying about a vote.”
Overall, Biden’s team has expressed confidence that the American public supports the president’s embrace of Israel. His aides also argue that Biden has for years championed the interests of Arab and Muslim Americans, including in recent weeks when he condemned Islamophobia and began relying on Israel to show restraint in its campaign in Gaza.
Biden’s Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, is among those who recently called for “humanitarian pauses” to allow more food, water and medicine into Gaza, something the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected.
But some Democrats remain worried. Waleed Shahid, a progressive Democratic strategist who has been highly critical of Biden’s approach to the war, said many voters already had concerns about the president’s age that they were willing to put aside. side because they supported his legislative achievements in the fight against climate change and in the fight against Covid-19. 19 relief.
“But Biden’s funding of Netanyahu’s relentless bombing campaign disrupts young voters and voters of color on a level of core values,” he said. “The election is looking more and more like 2016, where Democrats, as the incumbent party, will have to work hard to win over their own voters rather than just telling us how horrible the other one is.”
A progressive strategist who worked for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and was granted anonymity to speak freely said the New York Times polls “should be a wake-up call” for the campaign Biden.
“They not only need to win over young voters, they also need to excite them,” the person added. “These voters are concerned about Palestinian lives and the ongoing war, and the administration’s current response will only further alienate them from the president. »
But not all Democrats are concerned that Biden’s approach to war could impact 2024.
Rep. Shri Thanedar (D-Mich.), who represents Detroit, said: “The most vital thing to remember for Muslim Americans, and for all Americans, is that even as Joe Biden uses his power and influence to stabilize Israel’s response and saving Palestinian lives, his predecessor did not waste the opportunity to target Muslims in every dehumanizing way possible. » He added: “I am confident that my constituents will remember this when the time comes. »