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Gaza Conflict: Potential Impact on Biden’s Election Prospects

Gaza Conflict: Potential Impact on Biden’s Election Prospects \ Newslooks \Opinion \.

Arab and Muslim Americans are expressing frustration with President Biden’s unwavering support for the Israeli war on Gaza, leading to a potential threat to his reelection bid in 2024. This discontent is particularly evident in battleground and swing states such as Minnesota, Michigan, Arizona, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Florida, where Arab and Muslim American leaders are organizing under the campaign “Abandon Biden.” The irony lies in the fact that these states played a crucial role in Biden’s victory in the 2020 election.
Biden has downplayed these concerns, expressing his confidence that Arab and Muslim Americans will not vote for former President Trump, who is planning to reactivate his travel ban on individuals coming to the US from Muslim-majority countries, which demonstrated a lack of concern for the Arab population. However, Muslim and Arab  Americans argue that their dissatisfaction with Biden is a strategic means of influencing U.S. policy, as they do not anticipate improved treatment under a potential Trump re-election.
James Zogby, President of the Arab American Institute, criticizes the dismissive attitude of Biden’s campaign strategists, emphasizing the danger of assuming that young and non-white voters will automatically support Biden. Recent polls indicate that almost one in five voters is open to third-party candidates, a factor Democrats should not underestimate as they did in 2016.
Biden’s popularity among Muslim and Arab American voters has declined sharply due to the Gaza conflict, dropping from 59% in 2020 to 17% in October 2023. The refusal to advocate for a cease-fire, despite over 28,000 Palestinians killed and 60,000 injured since October, has fueled this discontent. The potential shift in support from these communities could challenge Biden in states where he secured narrow margins in 2020.

Gaza Conflict: Potential Impact on Biden's Election Prospects
Imran Salha, center, imam of the Islamic Center of Detroit, and Lexis Zeidan, left, address the media before joining about three dozen people protesting Israel’s attacks in Gaza, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024 in Dearborn, Mich. The protesters gathered hoping to be heard by members of the Biden White House who were scheduled to meet in suburban Detroit with Muslim and Arab American leaders. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Recognizing the need to mend relations, the White House has intensified its outreach to Muslim and Arab leaders, with Biden hosting a meeting for select Muslim and Arab American leaders. The President expressed his sorrow for the loss of Palestinian lives and emphasized the importance of recognizing their humanity. The administration aims to engage in ongoing conversations with these communities while working towards a two-state solution.
However, many groups argue that the White House’s efforts to rebuild trust are too late. Approximately 200,000 registered Muslim voters in Michigan, a critical battleground state, hold the potential to sway election outcomes. Biden won Michigan by only 154,000 votes in 2020. These votes can cost him the election if they abandon him. A coalition in Minnesota has issued an ultimatum to Biden: call for a cease-fire or risk losing the Muslim vote in the state.
Community organizers accuse the Democratic Party of taking the Muslim and Arab vote for granted, describing the current situation as a betrayal of promises. Organizers, advocacy groups, and even federal government staffers have voiced their discontent through protests, petitions, letters, and social media.
Polls conducted in October and November reveal a significant decrease in support for Biden’s reelection among Arab and Muslim American voters. A potential swing in key states like Arizona and Georgia, where Muslims have a considerable influence, could impact the overall election outcome.  In 2020, Biden won Arizona by only 10,500 votes and Georgia by 11,800. That is why, even if half of Muslim and Arab American voters in Arizona and Georgia alone fail to vote for Biden, it would be enough to swing those states to his opponent this November and maybe cost him the White House.  A survey released in November last year indicates that only 5.2% of Muslim Americans plan to vote for Biden in 2024, reflecting a broader sentiment among Americans favoring a more balanced approach to the Israel-Palestine conflict.

A poll conducted last October found that support for Biden’s reelection has plummeted among Arab American voters, dropping from 59% to 17%, a 42% decrease from 2020. A second poll released in November found that two-thirds of Arab and Muslim Democrats in Michigan said they plan to vote against Biden. That is why Arab and Muslim voters in the swing states could have an impact because they have an outsize influence in several swing states.

They are backed by many Americans who think the president should have a more balanced approach to the conflict. According to an Arab American Institute poll, 57% of Americans think the “U.S. should act as a fair and impartial broker between Israelis and Palestinians.”

In conclusion, the Gaza conflict has become a focal point for Arab and Muslim American voters, posing a challenge to Biden’s electoral prospects in 2024. The discontent within these communities, particularly in key battleground states, underscores the need for the Biden administration to address their concerns and rebuild trust. Failure to do so could have far-reaching consequences for the President’s reelection bid. What could make the situation more dangerous for the Biden reelection is that Leaders of the Abandon Biden campaign seek alliances with Black, Hispanic, and young progressive groups, who also express dissatisfaction with Biden’s Israel policy. The Muslim and Arab American voting bloc, while relatively small in terms of the total population, can significantly influence the Electoral College, potentially shaping outcomes in crucial swing states like Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona, and Georgia.

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