Arab-American support for Biden plummets in four key states, poll finds

According to survey, 88% of Arab Americans disapprove of President's handling of Israel-Gaza war

Demonstrators in front of the White House demand a ceasefire in Gaza and for the US to impose conditions on weapon supplies to Israel. Reuters
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If the US presidential elections were held today, only 18 per cent of Arab Americans in four key states would vote for President Joe Biden, a poll published on Thursday suggests.

This is a significant drop from the nearly 60 per cent recorded four years ago.

The poll, conducted by the Washington-based Arab American Institute, highlights how Mr Biden's handling of the Israel-Gaza war has cast a heavy shadow over his re-election prospects.

“The simple reason why Biden’s numbers and ratings are so low is, in a word, Gaza,” the report said.

According to the poll, 60 per cent of those surveyed said the war in Gaza was one of their most important issues, and 88 per cent said they have a negative view of the way Mr Biden has handled it.

Muslim and Arab Americans, some of whom have relatives in Gaza, have been horrified by his policies since October 7, when Israel launched a massive retaliatory campaign in the enclave after a Hamas attack killed 1,200 people, according to Israeli authorities.

Since then, more than 36,200 Palestinians, most of them women and children, have been killed in Gaza, according to local health authorities.

Mr Biden, a self-proclaimed Zionist, has refused to call for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza or place conditions on military aid to Israel – two central demands of Arab Americans.

Many Arab Americans have vowed never to vote for him again.

The poll surveyed voters in Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Virginia – four states with sizeable Arab-American populations.

Michigan and Pennsylvania are another two of a handful of must-win states for both candidates.

According to the poll, 17 per cent of Arab Americans view Mr Biden favourably, a sharp decline from the 74 per cent in 2020.

Hundreds of thousands in Michigan, Virginia and other states cast “uncommitted” or blank votes during the Democratic primaries this year in protest against Mr Biden’s position on Gaza.

But despite international and domestic pressures, he has shown little sign of changing his policies on the eight-month-old war.

Israel has intensified its operations in the southern Gazan city of Rafah and said the war was likely to continue throughout this year.

More than 50 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli air strikes in the past 24 hours, local authorities report, many of them displaced people living in makeshift tent camps.

The Biden administration has for weeks said it does not support a ground operation in Rafah, and that attacking a densely populated area would lead to a change in US policy towards Israel.

But so far, Washington has said that Israel's assault on Rafah was not a major operation.

Meanwhile, in the US, the most recent polls show Donald Trump, the putative Republican nominee, leading slightly over Mr Biden in a head-to-head contest.

The AAI poll found that 32 per cent of Arab American voters would vote for Mr Trump.

Sixty per cent of Arab Americans said they were not very enthusiastic or unenthusiastic about voting in the presidential election.

Mr Trump, Mr Biden's predecessor, has vowed to reinstitute an order barring entry to the US for people from several Muslim countries if he wins.

Updated: May 30, 2024, 9:06 PM