WASHINGTON, D.C.— Half of U.S. adults say Israel’s 15-week-old military campaign in Gaza has “gone too far,” a finding driven mainly by growing disapproval among Republicans and political independents, according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
Broadly, the poll shows support for Israel and the Biden administration’s handling of the situation ebbing slightly further across the board. The poll shows 31 percent of U.S. adults approve of Biden’s handling of the conflict, including just 46 percent of Democrats. That’s as an earlier spike in support for Israel following the Hamas attacks Oct. 7 sags.
Melissa Morales, a 36-year-old political independent in Runnemede, New Jersey, said she finds herself watching videos and news from Gaza daily. Images of Palestinian children wounded, orphaned or unhoused by the fighting in Gaza make her mind go to her own 3-year-old boy.
Israel’s offensive has gone too far, Morales said, and so has the Biden administration’s support for it. Biden has supported Israel militarily and diplomatically since the first hours after the Hamas militant group’s Oct. 7 attacks, which Israel says killed 1,200 people.
The U.S. has become increasingly isolated in its support of Israel as the Palestinian death toll rises past 27,000, with two-thirds of the victims women and children. The Biden administration says it is pressing Israel to reduce its killing of civilians and allow in more humanitarian aid.
“These kids… they’re needing the end of this,” Morales said. “It’s such an unfair fight.”
John Milor, a cybersecurity expert in Clovis, California, who describes himself as a Republican-voting independent, says he remains “100 percent” behind Israel.
But Milor notices more young people in his circle speaking out against Israel. A visit to a family friend led to Milor being aghast when the man’s stepson denounced Israelis as “warmongers.”
“And I’m like, ‘You’re kidding, right?’” Milor said.
“It’s not like they asked to be attacked, you know,” Milor said by phone this week. “And they still have hostages over there.”
The poll shows 33 percent of Republicans now say Israel’s military response has gone too far, up from 18 percent in November. Fifty-two percent of independents say that, up from 39 percent. Sixty-two percent of Democrats say they feel that way, roughly the same majority as in November.
In all, 50 percent of U.S. adults now believe Israel’s military offensive has gone beyond what it should have, the poll found. That’s up from 40 percent in an AP-NORC poll conducted in November.
The new poll was conducted from Jan. 25 to 28. That overlapped with the killing of three U.S. troops in Jordan, the first deaths among American service members in what’s been a widening regional conflict since Oct. 7. U.S. officials blamed a drone strike by a Hamas-allied militia.
The new poll’s findings include more worrying news for President Biden when it comes to support from his own political party.
Fracture lines are growing in his Democratic base, with some key Democratic blocs that Biden will likely need if he’s going to win a second term unhappy with his handling of the conflict.
About 6 in 10 non-White Democrats disapprove of how Biden is approaching the conflict, while about half of White Democrats approve.
Notably, about 7 in 10 Democrats under 45 disapprove. That’s the opposite of the attitude of older Democrats, among whom nearly 6 in 10 approve.
Sarah Jackson, a 31-year-old professional closet designer in Chicago, is a Democrat. She says Biden has been about right in his level of support for both Israel and the Palestinians.
But as Israel’s air and ground offensive goes on, Jackson’s thoughts turn to finding the best way to phase down U.S. support for it.
“At first I was very supportive, because I did believe they need some type of help,” she said. “But yes, as it goes on, I do become more worried.”
she said that includes worrying a new leader will take office here and phase down support for Israel too abruptly.
About 7 in 10 of the Democrats who disapprove of Biden’s handling of the conflict say it’s extremely or very important for the U.S. to help negotiate a permanent ceasefire.
The poll also shows about half of U.S. adults are extremely or very concerned that the latest war between Israel and Hamas will lead to a broader conflict in the Middle East.
About half have heard “a lot” or “some” about the airstrikes from the United States and British militaries against Yemen’s Houthi rebels. About 4 in 10 U.S. adults approve of the airstrikes, including about 6 in 10 of those who say they’ve heard a lot or some about them. About an additional 4 in 10 say they neither approve nor disapprove, and about 1 in 10 disapprove.
The poll shows 35 percent of U.S. adults now describe Israel as an ally that shares U.S. interests and values. That’s back in line with the views from before the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas on Israel, after a brief increase in November to 44 percent.
Thirty-six percent of U.S. adults say the U.S. is not supportive enough of the Palestinians, up slightly from 31 percent in December.
About 6 in 10 call recovering hostages being held by Hamas an important U.S. priority, but only about 3 in 10 say it’s highly important to provide aid to Israel’s military to fight Hamas.
A similar share of U.S. adults say that about negotiating the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.
“If Hamas were in charge, absolutely not,” Milor said on the subject of an independent Palestinian nation. He said he worried that any Palestinian state would become a base for broader attacks.
But Morales, the woman from northwest New Jersey, said Palestinians should have a safe state, or at least a safe community.
“Everyone deserves a safe space where they can just be,” she said. “Without interference because of who they are.”
The poll of 1,152 adults was conducted using a sample drawn from NORC’s probability-based AmeriSpeak Panel, designed to represent the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 4.0 percentage points.
– AP. Edited for style.