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‘Guesswork,’ Mark Mellman says of polling that Democrats favor ceasefire, Palestinians

“There’s really no evidence to support the proposition that President Biden’s support for Israel is doing him any electoral damage,” the Democratic Majority for Israel head said.

Volunteers supporting Democratic Majority for Israel in Ohio in 2022. Source: Wikipedia.
Volunteers supporting Democratic Majority for Israel in Ohio in 2022. Source: Wikipedia.

Democrats are more firmly supportive of Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza than some recent national polling has suggested, according to a survey released on Tuesday.

The new poll, commissioned by Democratic Majority for Israel, found that Democrats believe the United States should support Israel over Hamas by a wide margin: 63% to 6%, which is nearly identical to the margin for U.S. registered voters (67% to 5%.)

The study surveyed 1,637 registered voters in the United States from Dec. 7-12 and had a margin for error of plus or minus 2.42%.

Asked if they prefer a ceasefire with Hamas immediately, or only after the terrorist group was disarmed and dismantled, nearly half (48%) of Democrats supported the latter, with less than a third (29%) calling for immediate ceasefire.

Mark Mellman, president of Democratic Majority for Israel, whose research group conducted the poll, told JNS that other polls suggesting outsized Democratic support for a ceasefire or high favorability for Palestinians are based on faulty polling and poorly-worded questions.

“A lot of this has been not polling, but guesswork,” Mellman said. “If you just say to people, ‘Should there be a ceasefire?’ Well, who would be against that? Why would anybody be against that?”

“But if you say, ‘Should there be a ceasefire if it leaves the hostages in Hamas’s hands or leaves Hamas in control of Gaza?’ People say ‘No. There shouldn’t be a ceasefire under those circumstances.’”

Critics of Israel have seized on polls purporting to show that a majority of Americans support a ceasefire to demand that the Biden administration pressure Israel to halt its campaign against Hamas.

“The majority of Americans are with us in supporting immediate de-escalation and a ceasefire,” Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) wrote on social media on Oct. 20, citing a Data for Progress poll. “It’s time for President Joe Biden and Congress to support our ceasefire now resolution to save lives.”

Pollsters have consistently found that majorities of Americans support a ceasefire in general terms, with that support particularly strong among Democrats and younger American adults.

An Economist/YouGov poll released earlier in December found that 78% of self-identified Democrats would support a future ceasefire, and a Harvard/Harris poll last week found that 67% of registered voters aged 18-24 favored an “unconditional ceasefire that would leave everyone in place,” the only age group in which a majority of respondents took that position.

Those figures, combined with former-President Donald Trump’s recent polling leads over Biden in several 2024 battleground states, has led some within the Biden administration to urge the president to soften his public messaging on Israel.

On Thursday, Politico reported that Vice President Kamala Harris has told Bident to express more “sensitivity” towards Palestinian civilians.

Publicly, many administration officials have balanced support for Israel’s right to self-defense and condemnation of Hamas in the aftermath of Oct. 7 with statements disapproving of the number of Palestinian civilians killed during Israel’s operations against Hamas.

“It’s clear that the conflict will move, and needs to move, to a lower-intensity phase,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said at a press conference Wednesday. “We expect to see, and want to see, a shift to more-targeted operations, with a smaller number of forces, that’s really focused-in on dealing with the leadership of Hamas, the tunnel network and a few other critical things.”

Blinked added that the suffering of civilians in Gaza was “gut wrenching” and that he personally was “very, very deeply” affected by the humanitarian toll.

Mellman doesn’t buy the argument that Biden and down-ballot Democrats need to triangulate on Israel to have success at the ballot box.

“There’s really no evidence to support the proposition that President Biden’s support for Israel is doing him any electoral damage whatever,” he said. “If anything, I think his support for Israel is a net positive.”

“You’ll find there are more people that are likely to vote for Biden because of his pro-Israel stance than to vote against him because of that,” Mellman said, citing swing states like Michigan, Pennsylvania and Nevada, where Jewish voters make up about 2-3% of the electorate, while Muslim voters account for 1% or less.

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