American Sympathy for Israel Reaches Wartime Low

30% of voters are most sympathetic to the Israeli cause, down from 41% in October, as support for Israel’s military campaign in Gaza declines
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February 21, 2024 at 5:07 pm UTC

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The American electorate’s sympathy for the Israeli people in their longstanding conflict with Palestinians has reached a low during its latest war with Hamas, as fewer voters than ever approve of the Israeli government’s handling the conflict — or support U.S. military assistance for its fight in Gaza. 

How voters feel about the Israel-Hamas war

According to our tracking of public sentiment about Israel’s war in Gaza, 30% of U.S. voters said they are most sympathetic toward the Israelis when it comes to their conflict with the Palestinians, down from 41% in October following Hamas’ massive terrorist attack. Another 12% said they are most sympathetic toward the Palestinian people (up from 9% at the beginning of the conflict) while 32% expressed equal concern for both sides, in line with monthly surveys conducted in December and January.

U.S. Sympathy for Israel Has Dropped by Double Digits Since October

Shares of U.S. voters who said they are more sympathetic toward each side in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
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Surveys conducted among representative samples of roughly 2,000 registered voters each, with margins of error of +/-2 percentage points.

Democrats, who remain more likely to express sympathy for people on both sides of the conflict, are almost equally likely to say they’re most concerned about the Palestinians as they are the Israelis (20% to 19%). On the other side of the partisan aisle, 46% of Republicans primarily sympathize with the Israelis, which nonetheless marks a tracking low since October.

Along with the shifting sympathies, the survey also found a recent decline in U.S. voter backing of how Israel is conducting its war.

Democrats and Independents Sour on Israel’s Handling of War in Gaza

Shares of voters who approve or disapprove of how Israel is conducting its military campaign against Hamas
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Surveys conducted among representative samples of roughly 2,000 registered voters each, with unweighted margins of error of +/-2 percentage points.

In our latest survey, 38% of voters approve of how ​​Israel is conducting its military campaign against Hamas (down from 42% in January), while the share who disapprove increased to 31% (up from 28% a month ago). Another 31% of voters are unsure. This shift was driven by Democrats and independents, who are both more likely than not to disapprove of Israel’s war effort, while its military campaign has maintained support from a slim majority of Republican voters.

How voters want Washington to respond

Along with those shifts away from Israel on the broader conflict and its handling of the war in Gaza, we’re also measuring a decline in support for American military aid for the Israeli forces.

Support for U.S. Military Aid to Israel Has Dropped as the War in Gaza Has Rolled On

Share of U.S. voters who said they support the following forms of assistance:
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Surveys conducted among representative samples of roughly 2,000 registered voters each, with unweighted margins of error of +/-2 percentage points.

Less than half of voters (46%) support the U.S. military aid to Israel, down from 53% in late October. As the GOP-led House continues to struggle to approve a supplemental appropriations package that includes funding for Israel, what will perhaps be most troubling for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is that fewer Republican voters than ever before (51%) expressed support for American military assistance — just slightly higher than the 48% who support sending U.S. humanitarian aid to the Palestinians.

The survey trends also suggest some Americans are ready for their government to distance itself from the broader conflict entirely: 45% of voters say the United States should be involved in trying to negotiate peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians, down from 53% in October. Nearly as many (35%) say it should stay out of peace negotiations. 

At the same time, roughly 3 in 5 voters — including 70% of Democrats, 55% of independents and 51% of Republicans — continue to express support for a cease-fire, similar to the levels of support captured last month. 

The bottom line

Taken together, these datapoints suggest that the pro-Israel energy in American politics may be losing steam as the rawness of Hamas’ brutal Oct. 7 attack becomes a more distant memory — and as political leaders inside and outside of America continue to criticize the scorched-Earth nature of the Israeli military’s response in Gaza.

Along with the political trouble the Gaza war has presented President Joe Biden with core parts of his base during a re-election campaign, the erosion of good will for Israel among U.S. voters could further imperil efforts on Capitol Hill to advance the funding package for Israel, Ukraine and America’s Indo-Pacific allies, which had hit a major roadblock already after the rejection of a bipartisan border security agreement by conservative House Republicans.

A headshot photograph of Eli Yokley
Eli Yokley
U.S. Politics Analyst

Eli Yokley is Morning Consult’s U.S. politics analyst. Eli joined Morning Consult in 2016 from Roll Call, where he reported on House and Senate campaigns after five years of covering state-level politics in the Show Me State while studying at the University of Missouri in Columbia, including contributions to The New York Times, Politico and The Daily Beast. Follow him on Twitter @eyokley. Interested in connecting with Eli to discuss his analysis or for a media engagement or speaking opportunity? Email [email protected].

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