How much is Biden's support for Israel hurting him among young voters?


As recently as this summer, a poll with Donald J. Trump leading among young voters would have been surprising.

Now it's increasingly familiar, and our new New York Times/Siena College national poll released Tuesday morning is no exception.

For the first time, Trump leads President Biden among young voters in a national Times/Siena poll, 49 percent to 43 percent. It's enough to give him a narrow 46-44 lead among registered voters overall.

It's usually not worth dwelling too much on a subsample of a single poll, but this basic story about young voters is present in almost every major poll right now. Our own polls in the fall's battleground states showed something similar, with Biden ahead by a single point between 18 and 29. Either figure is a big change from Biden's 21-point lead in our poll. final before the midterm elections or his 10-point lead in our latest national poll in July.

And there is a plausible explanation for the change in recent months: Israel.

As my colleagues Jonathan Weisman, Ruth Igielnik, and Alyce McFadden report, young voters in the survey took an extraordinarily negative view of Israel's recent conduct: An overwhelming majority say Israel is not doing enough to prevent civilian casualties in Gaza, They believe that Israel is not interested in peace, and I believe that Israel should stop its military campaign, even if it means that Hamas is not eliminated.

You might think that young voters with these progressive or even left-wing views would be among the most likely to stick with Biden. At least for now, that is not the case. Young Biden '20 voters with anti-Israel views are the most likely to report leaning toward Trump.

Overall, Trump is winning 21 percent of young Biden '20 voters who are more sympathetic to Palestinians than Israel, while winning 12 percent of other young Biden '20 voters. In an even more surprising sign of defections among his own supporters, Biden has only a 64-24 lead among young Biden '20 voters who say Israel is intentionally killing civilians, compared to an 84-8 lead among Biden '20 voters. voters who do not believe Israel is intentionally killing civilians.

The type of young voters who oppose Israel may have already opposed Biden before the war. That cannot be ruled out. But it remains evidence that opposition to the war itself is likely contributing to Biden's unusual weakness among young voters.

Here are some other findings from the survey:

Although he trails among registered voters, Biden actually leads Trump in our first measure of the likely 2024 electorate, 47 percent to 45 percent.

If you are a careful reader of this newsletter, this may not come completely out of the blue. Our polls have consistently shown that Biden does better among very regular and engaged voters, especially those who voted in the last midterm elections. In those polls, the most Republican voters have been those who voted in 2020, but not in 2022. This helps explain why Democrats continue to do so well in low-turnout special elections even though they struggle in the polls of registered voters or adults.

But in this particular poll, the divide isn't just between midterm voters and non-midterm voters. It's between people who voted in the 2020 general election and those who didn't. Biden leads by six points among voters who participated in the 2020 election, while Trump has an overwhelming 22-point lead among those who did not vote in 2020. In our estimate, it goes without saying that 2020 non-voters have less probability of voting. vote in 2024, and that's why we show Biden leading among likely voters.

It's an intriguing pattern, but there are good reasons to be cautious.

For one thing: Our previous surveys haven't shown anything this extreme, including our battlefield survey conducted eight weeks ago. That doesn't mean it's wrong, but our 2020 sample of nonvoters includes only 296 respondents, a sample that is too small to draw serious conclusions.

On the other hand: People who voted in 2020 reported backing Biden over Trump by 10 points in the 2020 election, 51 percent to 41 percent. Biden actually won by 4.5 points.

Now, there's a good reason why respondents might have been less likely to report backing Trump in our survey: We concluded the substantive portion of the survey with a series of questions about Trump's upcoming legal battles, including whether he committed crimes, if he will be convicted, if he should go to jail, etc. Then, at the end of the survey, we asked them how they voted in 2020.

These questions about Trump's legal troubles may have made his supporters less likely to admit support in the 2020 election. In fact, registered Republicans with a 2020 voting history were three times more likely than Democrats to refusing to tell us who they supported in the last presidential election. But it's also possible that our sample actually contains too many Biden '20 voters relative to nonvoters, producing an unbalanced shift in direction among likely voters.

Every time I see what looks like a crazy result, like Trump leading among young voters or a nearly 30-point gap between 2020 voters and non-voters, I think I'm going to dig into the data and see the signs. that something is wrong.

I haven't seen it yet.

In fact, this poll has a more Democratic sample of young people by party registration than in the past, but a much more favorable result for Trump.

A similar story applies to non-voters in 2020. They may support Trump by a wide margin, but 27 percent are registered as Democrats compared to 17 percent as Republicans. However, Trump leads among them because Biden only has a 49-34 advantage among those registered. democrats who did not participate in the 2020 election. He has an 83-8 lead among registered Democrats who voted.

A mere 49-34 lead for Biden among non-voting Democrats sounds pretty far-fetched, but it's at least easy to imagine why these types of Democrats would be less likely to support Biden. If you're a Democrat who didn't vote in 2020, you probably don't oppose Mr. Trump as vigorously and passionately as those who did. Non-voters also tend to be young, non-white, less educated and low-income — all groups Biden has struggled with. They also tend to be less partisan and less ideological and therefore may be less loyal to the party.

But for now, it's just a relatively small piece of information. And, curiously, it is a fact that we may never have the opportunity to validate. After all, non-voters don't vote. In all likelihood, people with strong voting records will play a huge role in the election, and at least in this poll, that's good news for Biden.

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