Does Joe Biden have an Israel problem?

The revealing split on the left

President Joe Biden meets with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel in Tel Aviv, October 2023 (Getty)
Text Size
Line Spacing

Welcome to Thunderdome, where for the first time some cracks are showing in the emphatic Democratic support for Joe Biden. Even with his many widely apparent defects as a candidate and a president, Biden’s support from strong Democratic constituencies has remained largely consistent throughout his tenure. The loss of Independent support at this juncture is rationalized away by many Democrats, who feel that once Donald Trump is presumably the GOP nominee, they’ll be able to get all those leaners in the center back in the fold. But now, thanks to his policy choices on Israel, Biden…

Welcome to Thunderdome, where for the first time some cracks are showing in the emphatic Democratic support for Joe Biden. Even with his many widely apparent defects as a candidate and a president, Biden’s support from strong Democratic constituencies has remained largely consistent throughout his tenure. The loss of Independent support at this juncture is rationalized away by many Democrats, who feel that once Donald Trump is presumably the GOP nominee, they’ll be able to get all those leaners in the center back in the fold. But now, thanks to his policy choices on Israel, Biden is suffering a major blow among a significant Democrat constituency made more important given its geographic concentration in Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania: Arab Americans.

President Joe Biden’s support among Arab Americans, who are crucial voters in battleground election states, has plunged from a comfortable majority in 2020 to just 17 percent, a new poll shows, amid growing anger over the Democratic president’s support for Israel’s attacks on Gaza.

Arab American support for Biden, at 59 percent in 2020, fell even before the outbreak of violence in the Middle East to 35 percent, the poll commissioned by the Arab American Institute showed, but has halved since.

The poll, released Tuesday, marks the first time since its inception in 1997 that a majority of Arab Americans did not identify as Democrats — 32 percent now identify as Republicans and 31 percent as independents. Forty percent of those polled said they would vote for former president Donald Trump, the likely Republican candidate in 2024, up five percentage points from 2020.

It’s even gotten to the point that some Democrats are openly expressing concern that Biden could lose the critical state of Michigan, where Democrats have dominated in recent years. The AP reports:

Democrats in Michigan have warned the White House that President Joe Biden’s handling of the Israel-Hamas conflict could cost him enough support within the Arab-American community to sway the outcome of the 2024 election in a state he almost certainly can’t afford to lose in his bid for reelection.

The situation has prompted the White House to discuss ways to alleviate tensions with some of the state’s prominent Democrats, including several who have been vocal critics of the president about the war.

“The message has been relayed. We’ve had calls with the White House. We’ve had calls with DNC officials,” said Abraham Aiyash, the third-ranking Democrat in the state House of Representatives, referring to the Democratic National Committee. “We’ve been clear in saying the humanity should matter, but if that is not a calculation that you’re going to make in this moment, recognize that there will be electoral reverberations to this.”

Michigan was a critical component of the so-called blue wall of states that includes Wisconsin and Pennsylvania that Biden returned to the Democratic column, helping him win the White House in 2020. Since then, Democrats have felt more confident about their standing in Michigan, particularly after Governor Gretchen Whitmer notched a commanding ten-point reelection victory last year.

But a cross current of developments in recent months has tested the party. Beyond the war, Michigan was shaken by a showdown between the autoworkers’ union and the Detroit Three automakers. Former president Donald Trump visited the state during the strike and Biden, who has longtime ties to unions, became the first sitting president to join a picket line.

Now that the strike is resolved, the war may have a more lasting political impact for the president. In 2020, Muslim voters nationally supported Biden over Trump 64 percent to 35 percent, according to 
AP VoteCast.

Aiyash, the Democratic floor leader in the state House, said Arab American leaders who have spoken to the White House “are worried” about the implications for 2024 and have relayed those concerns to Biden. Other prominent Michigan Democrats have shared similar concerns.

Most of the national dynamic focused on the Democratic split over Israel is generational in nature — contrasting the support from old Democratic hands and voices with the extreme rhetoric on the streets and campuses across the country. But there’s a meaningful political dynamic here as well. If Biden loses support in these key constituencies in critical states, it could cause the party to reevaluate its traditional support for Israel, and drive one more policy issue in an increasingly monopartisan direction.

Listen to today’s Thunderdome podcast here, and subscribe today.

RFK the spoiler, but for whom?

Whom does RFK Jr. actually hurt? This has been a question that had a multitude of answers prior to turning Independent — but now we have some examples, and it’s pretty clear he takes equally from both candidates, or slightly benefits Biden. Here’s the Quinnipiac poll latest:

Running with a promise to “spoil” the 2024 presidential contest, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. just received a sign that he might be making good on that pitch: A recent poll shows him with 22 percent support in a hypothetical three-way race against President Joe Biden and former president Donald Trump.

Biden, by contrast, would take 39 percent of the vote, and Trump would come away with 36 percent, according to the Quinnipiac University’s survey. In another positive sign for Kennedy, he came away with the backing of a plurality of independents: 36 percent chose him, compared with 31 percent for Trump and 30 percent for Biden.

The overall 22 percent does not suggest he can yet break through the two-party system and put his name on the Electoral College map next year as an independent. But the bigger threat his candidacy poses to Biden and Trump is the possibility of siphoning just enough votes from one of them to swing an otherwise coin-flip state in November.

The Quinnipiac poll, which surveyed 1,610 self-identified registered voters, has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2.4 percentage points. The telephone survey was conducted October 26-30, a period that includes Representative Dean Phillips’s entry into the Democratic primary.

The donor class coalesces around Haley

It’s happening very rapidly for Nikki Haley: a donor friendly candidate is getting the donor attention she needed. Here’s the word out from the weekend’s RJC:

Casino billionaire and mega Republican donor Miriam Adelson met in Las Vegas with 2024 presidential candidate Nikki Haley, who has been rising in the polls in key states, over the weekend, two sources briefed on the meeting said.

The previously unreported meeting during a gathering of Republican Jewish donors is likely a positive sign for Haley given Adelson
s status as one of the pre-eminent Republican donors.

This is unsurprising, because she’s vocalizing their concerns, as she did with Charlamagne tha God the other day:

Charlamagne: As a former UN ambassador, when you see Palestine and Israel going at it, you hear talks of Iran might get involved. You hear Russia and Hamas are growing closer. China might move on Taiwan. Biden says the US will defend the Philippines against China. The Pentagon says they have a nuclear weapon 24 times stronger than what they dropped on Japan. China is building up its nuclear weapon arsenal. How close are we to World War III, do you think?

Haley: The world is on fire, and America better wake up because right now, America is acting like it is September 10. And we better remember what September 12 felt like, because all it takes is one time.

What I will tell you is, all of our enemies — and I dealt with them every day for two years when I was at the United Nations — every one of them is looking at Joe Biden and they know he is not at the top of his game. They see him freezing up. They see that he can’t hear. They look at the fact that they see Donald Trump and they see all of the chaos that comes with that, and they are just banking on us continuing down this path that is not good for us.

We need to be strong. We need to be clear, and we need to do everything it takes to prevent war. A strong America doesn’t start wars. A strong America prevents wars. Right now, our enemies don’t fear us and that’s the problem. What we have to do is stop being reactionary and start letting other countries know what we expect of them. That is what I did at the United Nations. That is what I will do as your president.

You have to wonder if Mike Pompeo is kicking himself for not running given the policy dynamics of the moment.

Will the GOP turn against corporate cash?

This would certainly be an interesting development and unexpected consequence to increasing wokeness from the corporate class. Josh Hawley’s turn against the corporate cash machine is now available in bill form:

Senator Josh Hawley is drawing the ire of top Senate Republicans after he proposed legislation that would end unlimited corporate donations to PACs, a key item in the Citizens United decision that has helped bankroll top GOP groups for more than a decade.

The bill caught the attention of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who criticized Hawley during the Senate GOP lunch Tuesday, multiple senators told the 
Hill, and warned Republicans that they shouldn’t join Hawley’s push. One senator added that the bill landed with a thud among the Senate GOP conference…

The bill, titled the Ending Corporate Influence on Elections Act, would overturn a cornerstone of the Supreme Court’s landmark Citizens United decision that dealt a major blow to campaign finance laws. Hawley has been hostile to corporate America and has criticized its mentality as “woke,” especially after a number of corporations said they would no longer give funds to those who voted against certification of the 2020 election results January 6, 2021…

“The overwhelming majority of Republican voters think he’s wrong. They don’t want more woke, corporate money in our politics. You can’t complain about Major League Baseball doing what they’ve done, and you can’t complain about Coca-Cola and all of these things and decry all of that, and then turn around and have your hand out and say, ‘Please give me the money.’ It’s one or the other,” Hawley said, referring to McConnell’s comments two years ago that corporations should keep out of politics, save for contributions. 

One more thing

Donald J. Trump and his campaign team are now huge fans of that grossly partisan and surprisingly stalkery menswear account, blasting out his latest Politico magazine article attacking Ron DeSantis based on the conspiracy theory that the Florida governor wears lifts in his Lucchese cowboy boots. In not one but two email blasts on October 31 and November 1, subject line “KISS OF DEATH: DeSantis — Heels High, Hopes Low,” the Trump campaign hailed the work of the partisan conspiracy nut who claims Joe Biden and Asa Hutchinson are fashion plates and defends John Fetterman’s right to look like a fentanyl addicted hobo on the Senate floor. Learning that Lucchese boots are a “bizarre choice in footwear” is quite a nutty thing to come out of a Republican campaign — whatever will the Texans do?

An email the campaign sent today about “BootGate, ShoeNami, LittleCandidateBigWorld, and On and On…” said: “This morning, Ron’s humiliation tour took him to the MSDNC studios, a network obviously known for its vast viewership of GOP primary voters. The DeSanctus political obituaries are already piling up, with Ron hell-bent on leaving no shred of his reputation intact before his campaign fever dream subsides.”