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The “Gaza” Factor in this Year’s Presidential Election

posted on: Apr 24, 2024

By: Bishara A Bahbah / Arab America Featured Columnist

This year’s presidential election is taking place amid a genocidal war in Gaza heavily supported by President Joe Biden. The latter declared when he first assumed office that he was a “Zionist, and on multiple occasions, he repeatedly stated his “ironclad” support of Israel by providing it with a continuous flow of arms and shielding it from political outrage by the world community.

The “Gaza Factor” in this year’s presidential race profoundly impacts President Biden. Former President Donald Trump has wisely stayed away from Israel’s Gaza debacle and is watching Biden taking it on the chin. 

The “Gaza Factor” in this Year’s Presidential Election

  • Biden’s unreserved support of Israel has led to a significant erosion of his support among Democrats

The Washington Post wrote on X on April 17 that “Pro-Palestine protests are rising as public opinion on Israel has shifted. A Gallup poll indicated that the majority of Americans disapprove of Israel’s actions in Gaza.” Polling suggests that about two-thirds of Americans support an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

The Washington Post on Palestine Protests.

Around two-thirds of voters (67%) – including majorities of Democrats (77%), Independents (69%), and Republicans (56%) – support the U.S. calling for a permanent ceasefire and de-escalation of violence in Gaza. 

Biden’s inability and personal unwillingness to distance himself and the United States from Israel, and his administration’s ongoing refusal to put conditions on military aid, is tearing apart the coalition that brought him to power in 2020. Biden needs this coalition to win re-election. 

  • The role of Gaza in shaping the voting pattern in crucial swing states must be considered, as it could ultimately determine whether or not those states continue to back Biden.

At least ten states – Michigan, Hawaii, Minnesota, N. Carolina, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Colorado, Virginia, and Alabama voted in convincing numbers during the Democratic presidential elections either as “uncommitted,” “not specified,” or to other candidates as protest votes against Biden’s support of Israel in the war on Gaza. 

Among several swing states, including Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, Biden’s support eroded considerably among young voters, Arab and Muslim American voters, Latinos, Blacks, and American Indians. 

2020 Swing States. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

In Michigan, Trump won the state by a mere 11,000 votes in 2016. In 2020, Biden carried the state by a whopping 150,000 votes. However, in this year’s Democratic presidential primary, 18 percent of Michiganders voted either “uncommitted” or for other minor candidates.

Michigan, with its 15 electoral votes, is a must-win for Biden. According to the most recent polls, former President Trump is winning by three to six points in Michigan. The discrepancy among Arab and Muslim voters is much larger. However, none of the polls conducted in Michigan show President Biden ahead of former President Trump.

With its ten electoral votes, Minnesota is another must-win state for Biden. However, the Democratic presidential primary revealed that a whopping 18.9 percent voted “uncommitted.” If combined with those who voted for minor candidates, that percentage would increase to 29 percent. As the polls reveal, Biden’s lead dropped from 8 to 2 points in one month—an extremely worrying sign. 

In Wisconsin, with its ten electoral votes, another key battleground state that could decide the outcome of Biden’s attempt to get reelected, more than 48,000, or 18.9 percent of Democrats in the presidential primary election, voted “uncommitted” in protest of Biden’s pro-Israel Gaza policies. That is more than double his narrow margin of victory in 2020. 

All recent public opinion polls except one show former President Trump ahead of Biden. 

  • Biden’s image as a world leader has been tarnished in his confrontations with Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu over Gaza.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has acted like a spoiled, entitled child in his dealings with the United States, notably President Biden.

Despite receiving massive and unprecedented levels of military aid from the United States, Netanyahu has ignored Biden’s pleas to allow more food into the Gaza Strip. He has belittled Biden in the eyes of the world by his intransigence. He has been oblivious to Biden’s predicament in attempting to assuage the critical base of the Democratic party that has been vehemently opposing arming Israel and whom Biden depends upon for getting reelected in November.

If Biden were to lose several swing states he had won in 2020 because of anger among his Democratic base in key swing states, his path to the presidency this November would falter. 

About the Author: Dr. Bishara A Bahbah is’s featured columnist. He taught at Harvard University and was the associate director of its Middle East Institute. He is also president of the Palestinian American Congress.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of Arab America.

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