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Biden gets low marks on Israel, particularly from young voters, new polling finds

By Ariel Edwards-Levy, CNN

(CNN) — Only one-third of registered voters approve of President Joe Biden’s handling of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a new poll from The New York Times and Siena College finds, with young voters especially likely to express dissatisfaction.

The finding aligns with other recent polling this month that showed significant partisan and generational divides over the Israel-Hamas war and Biden’s response.

Biden’s overall approval rating stands at 37% among registered voters, according to the Times/Siena poll, with a slightly lower 33% approving specifically of his handling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Among voters younger than 30, his approval rating stands at 26% overall and 20% on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Overall, 19% of registered voters say both that they disapprove of Biden on the conflict and that it’s because he’s too supportive of Israel, rising to 45% among voters younger than 30.

A 54% majority of registered voters support the US providing additional economic and military aid to Israel, with 38% opposed. But voters say, 48% to 30%, that Israel is not taking enough precautions to avoid civilian casualties in Gaza.

As CNN previously reported, tensions are mounting between the Biden administration and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over mounting civilian casualties in Gaza. Biden is under increasing pressure, domestically and internationally, to push Netanyahu away from the heavy bombardment of Gaza, which has sparked global outcry and calls for a sustained ceasefire.

Asked whom they trust more to handle the Israeli-Palestinian conflict between Biden and former President Donald Trump, 46% of registered voters in the Times/Siena poll say Trump, 38% Biden, and 15% are unsure. Just 1% of registered voters name the situation in Israel as the most important issue currently facing the US, with 34% naming economic- or inflation-related concerns.

Pew Research Center poll released earlier this month found that Americans broadly place responsibility on Hamas for the ongoing Israel-Hamas war, but with significant shares of Democrats and younger adults saying that Israel’s current military operation is going too far.

A 65% majority of Americans in the Pew survey said Hamas bears a lot of responsibility for the Israel-Hamas war, with fewer saying the same about the Israeli government (35%), the Palestinian people (20%) or the Israeli people (13%).

In Pew’s survey, 27% said Israel is going too far in its current military operation against Hamas, 25% that it’s taking the right approach, and 16% that it’s not going far enough, with about one-third unsure. There was an age divide: 38% of adults younger than 35, including a 56% majority of Democratic-aligned adults younger than 35, said Israel’s actions have gone too far.

Only about a quarter of Americans in the Pew survey said they were following the Israel-Hamas war extremely or very closely, with 37% saying they were following the news somewhat closely, and 36% not following it too closely, or at all. Just 18% of adults younger than 50 said they were paying extremely or very close attention.

An AP-NORC poll released earlier this month found that 37% of US adults, including 59% of Democrats, approved of Biden’s handling of the Israel-Hamas war – an uptick within his own party from November, when just half of Democrats approved. Two-thirds of the public called recovering hostages held by Hamas in Gaza a very or extremely important goal for the US, with 48% saying it was similarly important to negotiate a permanent ceasefire, 46% to provide humanitarian relief to Palestinians in Gaza and 34% to provide aid to Israel’s military to fight Hamas.

In CNN’s most recent Poll of Polls average, Biden’s average job approval rating among US adults stands at 38%.

The Times/Siena poll tested a hypothetical general election matchup between Biden and Trump and found no clear leader. Among all registered voters, Trump takes 46% to Biden’s 44%. Among those considered likely to vote at this early stage, Biden takes 47% to Trump’s 45%.

The Times/Siena survey also finds Trump leading Biden among registered voters who did not participate in the 2020 election, a finding that mirrors other recent polling.

The New York Times/Siena College poll of 1,016 registered voters nationwide was conducted by telephone using live operators from December 10-14, 2023. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points for registered voters.

This story has been updated with additional information.

CNN’s Haley Britzky contributed to this report.

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