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 Mr. 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 Mr. 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, which could decide the 2024 presidential election.
The poll was conducted by John Zogby Strategies of 500 Arab Americans with some answering online only, with a margin of error of 4.9 percentage points.
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 Mr. 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.
Incidences of anti-Muslim hate have skyrocketed in the U.S. and abroad since the surprise Oct. 7 attack by Hamas. One of the most prominent anti-Arab attacks was the killing of 6-year-old Wadea Al-Fayoume and the wounding of his mother in an attack prosecutors say was driven by Islamophobia.
The Associated Press reported that the Biden administration is preparing to announce that it will develop a national strategy to combat Islamophobia. The White House announcement had originally been expected to come last week when Mr. Biden held a meeting with Muslim leaders, but was delayed, three people told the AP. Two of them said the delay was due in part to concerns from the Muslim American community that the administration lacked credibility on the issue given its robust support for Israel’s military.
Rami Nashashibi, the founder of the Inner City Muslim Action Network in Chicago and a participant in last week’s meeting, said to the AP that he believed such an effort would be “dead on arrival” with the Muslim community until the president and administration officials forcefully condemn members of the far-right government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who have openly called for the eradication of Palestinians from Gaza and until the administration more aggressively calls out hate crimes targeting Muslims and Arab Americans.
He and other leaders also want Mr. Biden to apologize, or at least publicly clarify, his recent comments in which the president said he had “no confidence” in the Palestinian death count from Israel’s retaliatory strikes because the data comes from the Hamas-run Health Ministry, the AP reported.
Mr. Nashashibi also said that the White House strategy could land flat at a moment when many in the community feel that advocacy for Palestinian self-determination is being unfairly lumped in with those espousing antisemitism and backing of extremists.
“That conflating is in great part contributing to an atmosphere where we could see even more deadly results and more targeting,” he said to the AP. Mr. Nashashibi added, “The White House does not have the credibility to roll out an Islamophobia strategy at this moment without publicly addressing the points we explicitly raised with the president during our meeting.”
This story was reported by Reuters. Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.