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Harvard Caps Harris

February 21-22, 2024

The Details

1. Approval for Biden’s handling of the war drops from December, but most Americans continue to support the foreign aid sent to help Israel eradicate Hamas and provide Palestinians with humanitarian support.

  • We see a drop in approval ratings for Biden in terms of his handling of the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians, from 42% in December, to 38% now.

  • On the other hand, support for the aid package to Israel (which includes humanitarian aid to the Palestinians) remains steady at 55% vs. 45% who don’t support it.

2. Americans steadfastly support Israel over Hamas and tend to believe that Israel is trying to avoid civilian casualties. Amongst 18-24 there’s been an unusual uptick in support for Israel over Hamas, which is somewhat surprising.

  • Since December, over 80% of Americans support Israel more than they support Hamas.

  • Two in three Americans believe Israel is trying to avoid civilian casualties.

  • 18-24-year-olds, who in previous polls indicated they consider Hamas a viable opponent to Israel warranting their support (in December, 50% of this age group preferred Hamas over Israel), now appear to have flipped completely – with 72% supporting Israel over Hamas. And they continue to believe that Israel is trying to avoid civilian casualties (65% compared to 64% in January).

3. Two thirds of Americans prefer to see a ceasefire that is conditional on all the hostages being released and Hamas removed from power. When asked about the future, Americans overwhelmingly think Hamas should not be allowed to continue to run Gaza.

  • As in January, 67% of Americans do not want an unconditional ceasefire leaving everyone in place.

  • Differently from January, 18-24-year-olds seem to have changed their tune quite dramatically in this direction as well, with just over half (compared to two thirds last month) preferring an unconditional ceasefire over one that is conditioned on the hostages being released and Hamas removed from power.

  • 78% of Americans think Hamas needs to be removed from running Gaza. Yet almost half of 18-24-year-olds and over two thirds of 25-34-year-olds think that Hamas should continue to run Gaza (which appears to somewhat contradict their response to the previous question).

4. Most Americans approve Israel continuing its ground incursion – even young Americans.

  • While the language used to ask this question varied slightly from previous months, we see that approval for Israel’s ground incursion persists, with almost 2 in 3 Americans supporting it even though it exposes 1.2M Palestinians to risk.

  • Surprisingly, over half of 18-24-year-olds also feel this way. By comparison, in December, the question was asked whether Israel should cease the ground incursion or keep going until Hamas is defeated and the hostages are returned. Over half (57%) or this age group then opposed Israel continuing its ground incursion (that same amount today supports it).

5. This month we see a slightly higher preference amongst Americans for either Israel or a new set up with Arab nations to run Gaza if Hamas is removed.

  • 34% of Americans want Gaza to be administered by Israel if Hamas is removed (up from 30% in January), 39% want a new authority set up with Arab nations to do so (same as January), and 28% (down from 31% last month) want the Palestinian Authority to take charge.

Key Takeaways

Support for Israel amongst Americans remains high (82% support Israel) and American Gen Z’ers who to date have been very critical of Israel are suddenly very supportive. It’s important not to become overly optimistic or worst yet – complacent, about the good results from this poll, though. This is because it asks the question of support for Israel differently to other polls: first, it posits Israel vs. Hamas (compared to “the Israelis” vs. “the Palestinians”), and second, it only offers two answers to choose from – there’s no gray area, which is where many Americans may stand (other polls offer more than just picking one side or the other; you could also prefer neither side, or both or be unsure about it altogether). 

Americans (of all ages) support the aid package to Israel (including humanitarian aid to the Palestinians), which is an important indicator to Biden and the Democratic party that their actions are acceptable and positively viewed. While responses to questions such as approval of Biden’s handling of the war are not great, when push comes to shove, most Americans clearly support sending aid to Israel to help it continue the war. By way of comparison, only half of Americans want to continue sending aid to Ukraine.

We should highlight to the American administration that the American public does not want a ceasefire unless all the hostages are returned and Hamas is removed. Increased rhetoric from Biden and his staff about the need for a ceasefire even before we’ve achieved the objectives of the war seems unwarranted considering the general mood of the country that wants Hamas out and the hostages back. This is supported also by the fact that most Americans support Israel continuing its ground incursion (in other words – no ceasefire yet).

We think this poll is somewhat misleading. The pro-Israel community will welcome it with open arms, because it appears to suggest that things are looking much better for us, especially amongst younger Americans. However, it doesn't explain why and this worries us. Many questions that were asked in previous polls were not asked this time, and so we have very little context to understand the shift in perceptions that is quite dramatic from last month. 


This survey was conducted online within the United States from February 21-22 among 2,022 registered voters.

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