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Biden’s Arab-American exodus

Protest for Palestine in Dearborn, Michigan, home to the largest Arab-American community in the US.

Protest for Palestine in Dearborn, Michigan, home to the largest Arab-American community in the US.

Dominick Sokotoff/Sipa USA

US President Joe Biden’s policy towards Israel has cost him support among a community that could decide his fate in several swing states next year. A new poll by the Arab-American Institute shows just 17% of Arab-American voters now support him – a staggering drop from nearly 60% back in 2020. In addition, barely a quarter of Arab-Americans said they identify as Democrats now, the first time in a quarter century of polling that the number has fallen below 50%.

The reason? Two-thirds of Arab Americans disapprove of Biden’s handling of the Israel-Hamas conflict, in which he has given “rock solid” financial, military, and moral support to Israel. And while Biden has recently urged Israel to minimize civilian deaths, he’s also downplayed the importance – and even the credibility – of Palestinian casualty figures.

This view diverges from the broader US feeling. Polling shows 52% of Americans say Biden’s level of support for Israel is just right, with another 20% saying Washington should do more for Israel. Small wonder that two-thirds of Arab Americans said they don’t feel comfortable expressing concerns about Palestinians publicly.

Who’s picking up Arab-American allegiances? Support for Trump, one of the most pro-Israel US presidents in memory, surged past Biden to about 40%, while nearly one in five Arab-Americans are considering third-party candidates. As one Arab-American leader told Time, “the policies are basically the same. Except when Trump does it, you get some pushback from the Democratic Party.”

Could this affect the 2024 election? Arab Americans account for about 5% of the vote in up-for-grabs Michigan, which Biden won by 2.8 points in 2020. They also represent as much as 2% of the electorate in Pennsylvania, which Biden won by 1.2 points.


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