newsIsrael at War

Poll: Young US voters likelier to blame Israel, tend to trend pro-Hamas

Although 61% overall said that there was no moral equivalency between Israel and Hamas, 64% of 18- to 24-year-olds said both sides have equally just causes, per the Harvard/Harris poll.

Israel Defense Forces in southern Israel on Oct. 21, 2023. Photo by Gili Yaari/Flash90.
Israel Defense Forces in southern Israel on Oct. 21, 2023. Photo by Gili Yaari/Flash90.

U.S. voters overwhelmingly view Israel favorably and disapprove of Hamas, according to this month’s Harvard CAPS/Harris Poll, released by Harvard University’s Center for American Political Studies and Harris Insights and Analytics.

When it came to the Jewish state, 25% had very favorable views, 34% had favorable views, 11% had unfavorable views and 9% had very unfavorable views. The difference between overall favorable (59%) and unfavorable (21%) was 38 percentage points.

Six percent view Hamas very favorably and 7% favorably—a collective 14%—while 9% view the terror organization unfavorably and 54% very unfavorably (63% collectively). That gap was 49 percentage points.

The Palestinian Authority fared a little better: 17% favorable and 49% unfavorable.

China was hated at almost the same rate as Hamas. Ukraine was viewed almost as favorably as Israel.

The poll, which was conducted on Oct. 18-19, served 2,116 registered voters.

Voters said that the Israel-Hamas war was the 10th most important issue facing the country today. Price increases, inflation and immigration topped that list.

Some 70% of voters said it was watching the conflict closely (31% very closely), with 51% of those ages 18 to 24 following it closely. Overall, 86% said Hamas’s attacks were terrorism, with 91% of those following closely saying the attacks were terrorism. Among 18- to 24-year-olds, 74% said the attacks were terrorism.

Some 74% (53% of 18- to 24-year-olds, and 54% of 25- to 34-year-olds) said that Hamas “indiscriminately targeted civilians” as opposed to Israeli soldiers, and 83% said it is true that “Hamas terrorists killed 1,200 Israeli civilians by shooting them, raping and beheading people including whole families, kids and babies.” Nearly a third (32%) of 18- to 24-year-olds said the latter was a false story.

Almost eight in 10 (79%) said Hamas fighters are “terrorists”—a term that 59% of 18- to 24-year-olds used to describe Hamas.

Although the United States has designated Hamas a terrorist organization since 1997, 10 years after Hamas’s founding, 22% of voters (and 36% of 18- to 24-year-olds) did not think that Washington had designated Hamas as such.

More than half (51%) of 18- to 24-year-olds and nearly half (48%) of 25- to 34-year-olds, with 24% overall, said that the Hamas attacks “can be justified by the grievance of Palestinians.” Although voters said overwhelmingly (58% to 42%) that students who blame Israel for the attacks are condoning violence and terrorism, a majority (55%) said law firms should still hire students who supported Hamas.

Most voters (58%) approve of U.S. President Joe Biden’s Israel policy, and 69% say that Iran was behind the attacks. (About 46% of 18- to 24-year-olds said Iran was behind the attacks.) Most voters (56%) also believe that the attacks reflect widespread Palestinian antisemitism, rather than just the views of fundamentalists. On average, 18- to 24-year-olds (58%) and 25- to 34-year-olds (60%) were likelier than their elders to see the attacks as a sign of widespread Palestinian antisemitism.

Overwhelmingly, voters said (88%) must protect its citizens by retaliating against Hamas, and 84% said Israel has “a right to defend itself against rocket and terror attacks on its cities by launching air strikes on terrorist targets in heavily populated Palestinian areas with warnings to those citizens.” (Nearly half, 46%, of voters thought that Israel, rather than Hamas, runs the Gaza Strip.)

Some 63% said Israel was right to cut off power, water and food to Gaza until the hostages are returned, although 59% of 18- to 24-year-olds said Israel was wrong to do so. Although 61% said that there was no moral equivalency between Israel and Hamas, 64% of 18- to 24-year-olds said that both sides have equally just causes.

When it came to the blast at the Gaza Strip’s Al-Ahli Arab Hospital, 68% said that a terrorist rocket went off-course (though 61% of 18- to 24-year-olds blamed Israel), and 68% said that Hamas initially blamed Israel as a propagandist effort. Nearly three-quarters (73%) said the media should have waited for more evidence to report the story. Almost half (46%) said the media reports fairly, while 36% think the media is biased towards Israel and 18% think it is biased towards Palestinians. And 58% of 18- to 24-year-olds think the media favors Israel.

Sixty-three percent of voters still believe in a two-state solution, while 15% overall (and 26% of 18- to 24-year-olds) said that Israel should “be ended and given to Hamas and the Palestinians.”

Robby Starbuck, a conservative influencer, noted that more than half of 18- to 24-year-olds believe that Hamas is justified, including in killing children. “If they’re in power one day, I wonder what they’d feel justified doing to people who oppose them here?” he wrote of that age group.

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