The share of Americans who say the U.S. favors Israel over Palestine has fallen since 2017

Taylor OrthDirector of Survey Data Journalism
March 17, 2023, 3:22 PM GMT+0

The past year has seen a sharp increase in violent conflict between Israel and Palestine, with both sides experiencing significant casualties. The latest Economist/YouGov poll explores Americans' stances about the conflict and finds that while Americans' sympathies have shifted little over the past five years, the shares who view the U.S. government as siding with Israel and who see see helping as Israel as an important goal for the U.S. in the Middle East have declined.

Currently, 66% of Americans have heard at least something in the news about escalating violence in Israel and Palestine; just 14%, however, say they've heard a lot about the conflict.

Since 2017, the Economist and YouGov occasionally have asked Americans three questions related to the Middle Eastern conflict: who do they sympathize with more, who do they perceive the U.S. government as favoring, and how important is it for the U.S. to help Israel.

Who do Americans sympathize with more? More than twice as many people in the U.S. say they sympathize more with the Israelis (31%) than with the Palestinians (13%), though a large share say they side with both equally (27%) or are not sure where their sympathies lie (30%). Since December 2017, the share of people siding with Palestine has increased 5 percentage points.

Democrats are divided: 21% say they side with the Palestinians and 19% with the Israelis; 34% say their sympathies are equally split.

Republicans are more likely to side with Israel: 48% say they side with the Israelis, 5% with the Palestinians, and 26% with both equally.

Who does the U.S. government favor? Far more Americans believe the U.S. government favors the Israeli side in the conflict (41%) than think it favors the Palestinian side (7%) or treats both sides equally (17%). The share who say the U.S. sides with Israel has fallen since 2017, when Donald Trump was president: Then, around 50% thought the U.S. favored Israel in the conflict.

Should protecting Israel be a U.S. policy goal? In our latest poll, majorities of Americans identifying with each party say they believe that protecting Israel should be at least a somewhat important goal for U.S. policy in the Middle East.

Yet the share who say it should be a "very important" goal has fallen 5 points since 2017, to 33% from 38%. The share of Republicans who say U.S. protection of Israel is very important has declined even more, by 20 points, to 48% today from 68% in 2017.

— Carl Bialik and Linley Sanders contributed to this article

See the toplines and crosstabs from the Economist/YouGov poll conducted on March 11 - 14, 2023 among 1,500 U.S. adult citizens.

Methodology: Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel using sample matching. A random sample (stratified by gender, age, race, education, geographic region, and voter registration) was selected from the 2019 American Community Survey. The sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, education, 2020 election turnout and presidential vote, baseline party identification, and current voter registration status. Demographic weighting targets come from the 2019 American Community Survey. Baseline party identification is the respondent’s most recent answer given prior to June 1, 2022, and is weighted to the estimated distribution at that time (34% Democratic, 31% Republican). The margin of error for the overall sample is approximately 3%.

Image: Adobe Stock (viperagp)

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