Americans Want a New Policy Towards Israel

John Kerry and John Edwards thank supporters after John Kerry’s acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention (Sharon Farmer)

A new Zogby International poll commissioned by CNI found that half of all likely American voters agree that Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry “should adopt an entirely new policy, different from the present administration, towards Israel.”

The poll, conducted during the Democratic Convention, showed that 51% of likely voters somewhat or strongly agreed that a policy change was necessary. Only 34% strongly or somewhat disagreed. The number who supported Kerry adopting a new policy towards Israel was even higher among Democrats: 70% of Democrats, Kerry’s voter base, supported such a change.

Experts agree that turnout by independent voters, which could make up as much as a quarter of the likely voters in November, will be a crucial determinant in the outcome of this year’s presidential election. A plurality of independent voters agree (50% to 35%) that there should be a change in U.S. policy towards Israel. It appears that one of the obvious strategies for the Kerry ticket to win the election would be to demonstrate a sharp turn away from the Bush policies on the Middle East, especially with regard to Israel.

Earlier polls show that Muslim voters are defecting from Kerry and voting for Ralph Nader, probably because of his call for a new policy. Eugene Bird, President of the Council for the National Interest, said Friday, “The only conclusion that one can come to is that a policy that balances Israeli and Palestinian interests and guarantees freedom for a Palestinian state would be the single most important way to win a majority of the independent vote. It would also attract many of the 27% of Muslim voters, in Ohio, for example, which other polls indicate would go for Ralph Nader.”

Kerry’s current Middle East policy, as outlined in the recently released Democratic Party platform, offers little variation from the policy of the Bush administration over the last four years. As events in Israel and Palestine demonstrate, this policy has been unsuccessful as the bloodshed continues. Hopefully, Mr. Kerry will recognize that his supporters and many other potential supporters want a new approach to the region that will bring an end to the conflict as the first important step towards finding an exit strategy in Iraq and defeating terrorism.

Different ideas on Middle East platforms were raised at several state conventions including Hawaii, Washington, and Maine. These platforms, unlike the national platform, emphasized the importance of international law and human rights when addressing the Middle East. More information on these efforts, and CNI’s alternative platform for the Democratic Party can be found at CNI’s The Democratic Plank on the Middle East.

According to Zogby International’s analysis:

“A majority or plurality of people within almost every sub-group agrees the Kerry/Edwards team should adopt an entirely new policy towards Israel. The most likely to agree are Democrats (70%), Hispanics (78%) and progressives (75%). Approximately two-thirds of African Americans, liberals, single adults, and people with annual household income of $25,000-$34,999 also agree, as do three in five moderates and residents of the East region, and approximately 56% of 18-49 year-olds.

“Majorities of Republicans (51%) and those whose political ideology is very conservative (66%) are most likely to disagree. Also disagreeing are pluralities of born-again Christians (44%) and conservatives (47%), as well as two in five 50-64 year-olds and people with household income of $75,000 or more. More men (39%) than women (29%) disagree.

“More than one-fifth of African Americans and seniors 65 and older are not sure, as are just fewer than one in five Republicans, college graduates, and residents of rural areas and the West region.”


Method: Conducted by Zogby International of 1,001 likely voters between Monday, July 26, and Thursday, July 29, 2004.

The question: Most experts agree that resolving the Israel-Palestine conflict is central to finding an exit strategy for Iraq and fighting the war on terrorism. Do you strongly agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree, or strongly disagree that the Kerry/Edwards team should adopt an entirely new policy, different from the present administration, towards Israel?

The results:

Strongly agree 28% | Agree 51% | Somewhat agree 23% | Somewhat disagree 13% | Disagree 34% | Strongly disagree 21% | Not sure 15%

To download the full results (PDF) click here.

Related Links

  • Kerry Campaign releases Middle East policy seemingly drafted in Tel Aviv, John Kerry Campaign (2 July 2004)
  • BY TOPIC: KERRY, John — Democratic Presidential Candidate
  • Council for the National Interest