Biden threatened by generation gap on Israel among Democrats, Yahoo News/YouGov poll finds

President Biden answers a reporter's question as he arrives at the White House.
President Biden answers a reporter's question as he arrives at the White House on Dec. 20. (Alex Brandon/Associated Press)
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A widening divide between older and younger Democrats on the war in Gaza poses a political risk to President Biden as he heads into the 2024 election year, according to a new Yahoo News/YouGov poll.

The survey of 1,533 U.S. adults, which was conducted from Dec. 14 to 18, shows that for the first time, more Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents under the age of 45 disapprove (42%) than approve (41%) of Biden’s handling of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In mid-October, shortly after the war began, Democrats and Democratic leaners under age 45 approved of Biden’s approach to the issue by a two-to-one margin (47% to 24%).

In contrast, a majority of Democrats and Democratic leaners over 45 (55%) continue to approve of how Biden is dealing with the conflict — while less than a quarter (23%) disapprove.

A plurality of Democrats under 45 also now say that Biden’s approach has been “too pro-Israel” (38%) rather than “about right” (34%); in October, those numbers were more than reversed (22% too pro-Israel, 41% about right). Most Democrats over 45 still say Biden’s approach has been about right (51%) rather than too pro-Israel (20%).

How discontent among younger Democrats could shake up 2024

Unlike some other recent national surveys, the new Yahoo News/YouGov poll does not find former President Donald Trump leading Biden among voters age 18 to 29 (a group Biden won 60% to 34% in 2020). According to the Yahoo News/YouGov results, Biden and Trump are tied overall at 44% apiece, and Biden remains ahead by a healthy 55% to 27% margin among 18-to-29-year-olds.

Yet while rising discontent among younger Democrats with Biden’s handling of the war in Gaza may not be driving them into Trump’s arms, it could potentially sap enthusiasm, affect turnout and/or boost third-party support in 2024. A follow-up question asking about Trump vs. Biden vs. “another candidate,” for instance, shows the unspecified other candidate drawing 19% of the 18-to-29-year-old vote — and Biden’s support falling 9 percentage points to 46%. Trump’s share of the youth vote, meanwhile, remains virtually unchanged in this scenario, at 26%.

Digging deeper into the divide

What’s clear from the poll is that younger Democrats do not see eye to eye with their older counterparts on Israel and Gaza — or with Americans as a whole. Two examples:

  • Israel’s favorability rating among Democrats 45 and older is 50% favorable, 29% unfavorable; among Americans overall, it is 51% favorable, 24% favorable. But among Democrats under 45, a mere 37% now see Israel favorably, while more (41%) see the country unfavorably.

  • Asked if Israel “has a right to exist as a Jewish state,” 80% of Democrats 45 and older say yes; just 4% say no. Among Americans overall, those numbers are similar (70% vs. 9%). Among Democrats under 45, however, far fewer say yes (57%), while nearly a quarter (23%) say no.

To be sure, the three Yahoo News/YouGov surveys conducted since Oct. 7 show U.S. public opinion moving toward greater support for deescalation. In October, immediately following Hamas’s initial attacks on Israel, 47% of Americans said they wanted Israel to “take further military action against Hamas to protect Israeli citizens,” while 24% wanted Israel to “deescalate military action against Hamas to avoid harming Palestinian citizens.” That margin in favor of further military action over deescalation narrowed in November (38% vs. 30%) and on the current survey (37% vs. 33%).

Likewise, in November, more Americans preferred the U.S. government to be “working to broker a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas” (41%) rather than “supporting Israel as it tries to defeat Hamas” (34%). That margin grew slightly to 44% vs. 34% on the new survey.

But a new question forcing respondents to choose between “a continuation of the fighting until Hamas is no longer in control of Gaza” and “a permanent ceasefire that ends the fighting but leaves Hamas in control of Gaza” reveals just how big a gap remains between younger and older Democrats, with a 40% plurality of Democrats under 45 saying they prefer a ceasefire that leaves Hamas in control versus just 17% of Democrats over 45.

Antisemitism seen as a growing problem

As left-wing protests against Israel’s conduct in Gaza continue — and as debates about anti-Jewish speech on college campuses make national headlines — 67% of Americans now say antisemitism is a “very” or “somewhat” serious problem in the U.S. today, up 8 points from last December. Similarly, a majority of Americans (53%) now say antisemitism has increased “over the past few years,” up 9 points from last December.

Back then, the media was focused on Trump’s dinner with openly antisemitic rapper Kanye West and white nationalist Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes; today, accusations of antisemitism center on the political left. As a result, perceptions of antisemitism as a problem have risen far more over the past year among Republicans (up from 51% to 68%) and independents (up from 60% to 67%) than among Democrats (up just a point, from 72% to 73%). A full 40% of all Americans now say “a lot” or “some” of the Democratic Party “holds antisemitic views,” up from 34% a year ago. Meanwhile, the perception among all Americans that a lot or some of the Republican party holds antisemitic views ticked down 2 points (from 40% to 38%) over the past year.

Biden gets little credit from either side

None of this is good news for Biden, whose administration has attempted to walk a fine line by publicly supporting Israel while also urging its government to transition from devastating airstrikes and ground operations to more precise targeting of Hamas leaders.

In return, the president has gotten little credit from either side of the political divide. Since October, Biden’s overall approval rating for handling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has fallen by 6 points (from 36% to 30%), while his disapproval rating has risen by 12 points (from 40% to 52%). That reflects the fact that Democrats are now 9 points less likely to approve of Biden’s approach to the issue (48%) than they were in October (57%) — and 15 points more likely to disapprove (20% vs. 35%).

At the same time, GOP opinion has barely budged. In October, Biden’s rating among Republicans on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was 66% disapprove versus 21% approve. Today, those numbers are 68% and 19%, respectively.


The Yahoo News survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,533 U.S. adults interviewed online from Dec. 14 to 18, 2023. The sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, education, 2020 election turnout and presidential vote, baseline party identification and current voter registration status. Demographic weighting targets come from the 2019 American Community Survey. Baseline party identification is the respondent’s most recent answer given prior to Nov. 1, 2022, and is weighted to the estimated distribution at that time (33% Democratic, 27% Republican). Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel to be representative of all U.S. adults. The margin of error is approximately 2.8%.