World, Americas

Crisis for US Democrats as Arab American voters ditch Gaza ‘genocide accomplice’ Biden

New poll shows Biden’s approval within Arab Americans has plummeted 45%, from 74% in 2020 to 29% in 2023

Darren Lyn  | 06.11.2023 - Update : 07.11.2023
Crisis for US Democrats as Arab American voters ditch Gaza ‘genocide accomplice’ Biden FILE PHOTO

- New poll shows Biden’s approval within Arab Americans has plummeted 45%, from 74% in 2020 to 29% in 2023

- President Biden ‘is also taking the Democratic Party down with him,’ Maya Berry, executive director of Arab American Institute, tells Anadolu

- Between Biden and Trump, voters will have to choose between ‘a racist or a genocide accomplice’ in 2024, says Hussam Ayloush of the Council on American-Islamic Relations

HOUSTON, United States

A new poll released last week showed that Arab American support for Joe Biden has plunged to an all-time low, with the Democratic Party absorbing the brunt of the blow due to the community’s negative sentiment toward the US president over his support for Israel’s ongoing assault on the Gaza Strip.

According to numbers released by the Arab American Institute (AAI), Biden’s overall approval rating within the community plummeted from 74% in 2020 to 29% in 2023, an unprecedented drop of 45%.

Just as damning, if the 2024 presidential election were held today, only 17% of Arab Americans said they would vote for Biden – a 42% nosedive from 2020, when 59% of the community supported the president.

“That is the largest drop we have seen in such a short period of time,” said Maya Berry, executive director of the AAI.

The lack of support for Biden does not bode well for the Democratic Party.

According to the poll, 32% of Arab Americans identified as Republicans compared to 23% who identified as Democrats.

That is a steep drop of 17% from April, when 40% of Arab Americans aligned themselves with the Democrats.

“The president’s numbers didn’t just decline in the amount of support for him. He is also taking the Democratic Party down with him,” Berry told Anadolu.

“For the first time in our polling (26 years) more Arab Americans identified themselves as Republicans versus Democrats in this poll. I think that captures the angst of this community at this time in a very real way.”

AAI’s polling since the mid-1990s shows that the Arab American community has been fairly consistent in its political leanings, with “one-third identifying as Republicans, one-third identifying as Democrats and one-third identifying as Independents,” according to Berry.

Berry said the recent poll clearly reflects the Arab American community’s sentiments on the way Biden is handling the current crisis in Gaza.

“I think to the extraordinary level in which the Biden administration is failing to meet the moment of properly addressing Palestinians lives that are being taken through collective punishment versus Israeli occupation is very significant,” she said.

“And that is reflected in the numbers.”

The AAI poll presented voters with the current top Democratic and Republican presidential candidates for 2024: Biden and former President Donald Trump, who is considered to be the frontrunner for the Republican nomination.

It also included the top two independent candidates, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Cornel West.

Of the 500 Arab Americans polled nationwide, Trump received 40% of the vote, Biden received 17.4% and 25.1% of Arab American voters were undecided. RFK Jr. received 13.7% and West received 3.8%.

“I don’t think that means that every Arab American is not going to vote for Biden in 2024,” said Berry.

“But it is a very challenging situation for a community who cares about democracy and rejects racism and white supremacy at the same time.”

Do you choose a racist or a genocide accomplice?

There are about 3.7 million Arab Americans living in the US.

Combine that with roughly the same number of Muslim Americans living in the US and that is a significant amount of voters that could make the difference in next year’s presidential election, especially in swing states like Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

“Two communities totaling about 7 million plus people have a high level of discontent and frustration and are disgusted with their own president right now,” said Hussam Ayloush, chief executive officer of the California chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-CA).

“The leader of the free world is basically playing a part in the longest and most brutal occupation happening in the world today. Biden has failed the Arab and Muslim constituency, he has failed America’s interests and he has failed his own humanity, and voters are seeing that and recognizing that.”

When addressing the AAI poll that had Trump receiving 40% of the vote and Biden receiving 17.4%, Ayloush said that he is surprised Biden’s numbers were not lower.

“I would have expected Biden to have received maybe 5% to 10% of the vote, at most,” he said.

Ayloush also told Anadolu that a showdown between Biden and Trump might pose a conundrum for both Arab American and Muslim American voters.

While many Arab and Muslim voters are outraged that Biden is “aiding and abetting Israel in the war crimes against the people of Gaza,” Ayloush said both communities are fully aware of Trump’s anti-Arab and anti-Muslim bigotry and racism toward them, basically putting them in a “no-win situation.”

“In a two-party system, an election is sometimes about choosing the lesser of two evils, and sometimes it is difficult to tell who is a greater evil,” said Ayloush, clarifying that CAIR-CA does not endorse any particular candidate or political campaign.

“Do you choose a racist or a genocide accomplice? Would Trump have done better than Biden in this situation? I honestly don’t know,” Ayloush continued,

“But I know that Biden chose to support genocide. Would Trump have done that, not just choosing a side, but aiding and abetting genocide? I don’t know that either, but that is what voters are going to have to weigh when they make their vote.”

Ayloush emphasized that if Arab and Muslim voters do not want to vote for either candidate, they always have the option of voting for an independent or third-party candidate, or they can simply abstain from voting.

“Just because voters are choosing not to support Biden does not mean that they are going to vote for Trump,” he said.

“With our tools of democracy, it is not unique or unusual for people to vote for a third-party or write-in candidate as a protest vote, even if that candidate is not going to win.”

He said abstaining from voting “sometimes has power” and it could make a difference in the aforementioned swing states, according to Ayloush.

“If the sentiment of the Arab and Muslim communities continues like this until election day, until the Nov. 5 general election in 2024, it is almost guaranteed that Biden is going to lose most, if not all, of those swing states,” said Ayloush.

“The Democratic Party knows very well that’s the case.”

If the AAI poll is any indication of the level of frustration and discontent that voters have with the Biden administration, Ayloush said that may spell trouble for Democrats.

“The average person connects the policies of the politicians – in this case, the president – with their party allegiance,” he said.

“Their frustration with President Biden is automatically going to extend to their party affiliation and holding the party responsible for Biden's policies, whether it’s taxes, education, inflation, foreign policy, or supporting genocide. Voters will blame the party for the failure of the politician.”

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