Is Biden worrying about losing the wrong voters?

A poll shows New York Jews preferring Trump to Biden. Perhaps Democrats should be more concerned about the impact of left-wing antisemitism.

Maybe President Joe Biden and his White House handlers are looking at their re-election problems through the wrong end of the telescope. Their top priority these days is doing something about their problems with the intersectional left-wing activist base of the Democratic Party that is unhappy about the administration’s support for the right of Israel to defend itself, as well as for the eradication of Hamas from Gaza after the Oct. 7 massacre in southern Israel. A main focus of that effort, at least as far as the Biden campaign is concerned, is trying to win back the affections of Arab-American voters in Michigan, a key swing state in the 2024 presidential election.

Earlier this month, the White House sent a delegation of policymakers to apologize to Abdullah Hammoud, the pro-Hamas mayor of Dearborn, Mich., for the president’s pro-Israel statements, even though he had already begun to shift towards a more even-handed stance. The latest demonstration of their worries about Michigan was the decision to send Vice President Kamala Harris to the state to address the concerns of the increasingly loud voices within the party that are calling the president "genocide Joe" for his continued refusal to cut off the supply of arms and ammunition to Israel, as well for vetoing U.N. Security Council resolutions that attempted to impose an immediate ceasefire that would effectively enable Hamas to survive. While the unpopular Harris (her approval ratings are even lower than the president’s) is considered politically toxic outside of deep-blue enclaves, she was considered a good choice to send to Michigan because, as The New York Times put it, she “is seen as more critical of Israel than the president.”

While the president’s re-election campaign staff is laser-focused on Arab Americans and Muslims, is it possible that the Democrats are ignoring potential problems with what is, by any measure, the far larger number of voters who are Jewish and support Israel?

A surprising poll result

That’s a thought that may have crossed the minds of some political strategists this week when a Siena College poll of registered voters in the state of New York produced a rather surprising piece of data. The breakdown of the survey showed that those voters who identified themselves as being Jewish supported former President Donald Trump over Biden by 53% to 44% in a head-to-head matchup. When third-party candidates were offered as an alternative, including Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Cornel West, Trump still maintained an advantage among New York Jews, beating Biden by 46% to 38%.

If the poll is an accurate rendering of Jewish public opinion—and there are reasonable arguments to be made that it’s not—it reflects something of a revolution in American Jewish opinion.

While everything changes in politics, the one data point that has remained constant for the last century is that the overwhelming majority of American Jews have remained loyal Democrats. No Republican presidential candidate has won the Jewish vote since 1920. And, the Siena Poll notwithstanding, the chances of Trump doing so this year remain unlikely. But even if this result is an outlier, it should cause Biden and the Democrats to ponder whether their near-hysteria about their problems in places like Dearborn—which thanks to the openly antisemitic pronouncements of various imams in the mosques of a city with an Arab-American majority, coupled with the mayor’s support for the Oct. 7 atrocities, was dubbed the nation’s "jihad capital" by The Wall Street Journal—is a mistake.

If Jewish donors to elite universities are finally demanding that their administrations end their coddling of antisemites then why should it seem surprising that some Jewish voters are doing the same to the Democrats?

Muslims, Arabs and left-wingers who buy into the intersectional myths that falsely label Israel a "settler-colonial" and "apartheid" state of "whites" oppressing Palestinian Arab "people of color" are a real problem for Biden right now. Their laments about the fate of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip who have suffered as a result of Hamas’s decision to commit the Oct. 7 pogroms and start a war with Israel are being amplified by corporate press coverage in publications like the Times that liberals and Democrats still consider credible.

But most American Jews are understandably fixated on the surge in antisemitism in the United States, particularly since Oct. 7. While most Jews are accustomed to thinking of antisemitism as primarily a right-wing phenomenon, they know that the primary engine of Jew-hatred right now comes from the left—from some of the same voters that Biden is so worried about losing in the fall.

Growing concerns about antisemitism