LA Times poll: Younger, older Californians have starkly different views on the war between Israel and Hamas

(Anadolu/Anadolu via Getty Images)

LA Times poll: Younger, older Californians have starkly different views on the war between Israel and Hamas

Israel-Hamas, California Politics

David Lauter
Jaweed Kaleem

January 12, 2024

Three months of war between Israel and Hamas have sharply divided Californians, with deep divisions between the state’s older and younger voters, a new statewide poll shows.

Voters under 30 are far more likely to sympathize with Palestinians than Israelis, while voters over 65 side with Israel, according to the new poll from UC Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies, co-sponsored by the Los Angeles Times.

By means of



under 30

saying that Israel must agree to a ceasefire even if it means Hamas remains a fighting force in Gaza.

Among voters

over 65 years old,

The opinion is almost the opposite: through


These voters believe that Israel should keep fighting until Hamas is no longer viable.

Twenty seven

percent of the youngest voters and


% of people over 65 had no opinion, the poll showed.

The survey shows similarly sharp divisions along ideological lines, with the state’s most liberal voters overwhelmingly saying Israel is using too much military force in the war, while conservative voters say its use of force is about right or has been too little.

Jen Julian, a 26-year-old progressive voter living in Los Angeles, is among those who think the war has been too expensive. The death toll among Palestinians, which Gaza health authorities estimate is more than 23,000, was “too high a human price,” she said in an interview.

Israel launched its airstrikes and a ground invasion of Gaza after Hamas militants attacked Israel on October 1. At least 1,200 people were killed and more than 240 hostages were taken hostage.

“I understand that Israel was attacked and felt it had to respond, but this is far too much for far too long,” she said.

Joey Johnson, a 68-year-old conservative from Redding, had a different view.

“This looks like September 11 in Israel,” Johnson said. “If America were to be attacked by terrorists in the same way as Israel, we would also want to do everything we can to prevent this from ever happening again. But it is of course tragic that innocent people are dying in Gaza.”

The two-state solution is still dominant

Although opinions on the current war are sharply divided, the poll shows that California voters agree on the future of the conflict.

Separate, independent Israeli and Palestinian states that divide the country remain the favored option for all but the most conservative voters.

That so-called two-state solution has been official U.S. policy for decades and at various points in the past, at least nominally accepted as a goal by the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority, which has limited government power in the West Bank.

However, an independent Palestinian state is opposed by right-wing Israelis, who have strong influence in the current government, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Meanwhile, Hamas and other radical Palestinian groups reject Israel’s continued existence.

Among California voters, the two-state solution is supported by a large majority of those who have an opinion


rather two states, while


have no opinion and the rest divide among other options.

Two states is what Rabbi Jonathan Klein is hoping for.

As the leader of Temple Beth El in Bakersfield and a self-described “lifelong liberal Zionist,” Klein, 55, said he has been keeping a close eye on news from Israel and Gaza.

“My community almost universally supports Israel’s efforts to combat what they see as an existential threat,” Klein said.

“But I recognize that just because Jews have a historical connection to the area doesn’t mean that other people don’t. Do I think coexistence is possible? I hope so, but I don’t know at this point.”

The poll finds significantly less support for an option embraced by some on the left of a unified binational state. One in eight voters said they would like to see a single state that would be neither Jewish nor Palestinian. Support for this comes mainly from the left

just under 1 in 5

of the state’s liberals who support it.

There is very little support for Hamas’ goal: an Arab state that would control all the territory between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. While that idea was supported by demonstrators at some recent protests, that’s just the way it is


of voters in the state support this. Support rises to


among those

under 30



of those who identify as

strongly liberal


“Israel is an illegitimate state,” said Reza Nekumanesh, a 47-year-old Iranian American living in Fresno. “I do not believe that this means that a certain group of people does not have the right to live and exist there in peace, equality and justice,” Nekumanesh said. “But I don’t believe that a state should be based and centered on an ethnic or religious identity.”

On the other side of the ideological spectrum


of the state’s voters support a single Israeli state controlling the entire territory, the goal of the Israeli right.

However, Netanyahu and his allies have strong support within Republican ranks, and support for Israeli control of the entire region is rising


among the states


voters and


of those who identify as

strongly conservative


Divided sympathies

The poll finds


of California voters say they sympathize more with Israelis than Palestinians in the current conflict, and a similar share,


sympathize with both parties equally.

Mordecai Miller, a 74-year-old resident of Redwood City, said he felt pain for both sides, but after Oct. 1 he felt closer to the fate of the Israelis. 7.

“None of this war would have happened if Hamas had not deliberately attacked Israel and sought to eradicate the country,” Miller said. “Israel is forced to take revenge.”

A slightly smaller share


say they sympathize more with the Palestinians.

That includes Rami Sultan, a Palestinian American in Santa Clara who has family in Gaza.

The 41-year-old tech worker said he was outraged


what he described as ‘genocide’.

“This is not a war against Hamas at all. This is a clear war against the Palestinian people,” Sultan said.

Sympathies vary dramatically by age and ideology.

For example, among voters under the age of 30


say they sympathize more with the Palestinians, while being righteous


say they sympathize more with the Israelis and


with both equally.

Among people over 65


sympathize more with the Israelis,


with the Palestinians and


with both equally.

Biden was in the middle of it

The divided opinions on the war have made President Biden vulnerable to criticism from both the left and the right.



of voters in the state disapprove of Biden’s response, while





of voters who describe themselves as

strongly liberal

disapproval of Biden’s response to the conflict, as is the case


of those who identify as

strongly conservative.

The clear division by age is an important factor


of voters

under 30



of this


disapproval of the way Biden has handled the conflict.

Melissa Brown, a 40-year-old conservative voter in San Diego, said Biden “was initially very strong on Israel, as he should have been.”

“He is still strong, but you can see him succumbing to pressure from the left, sending messages that Israel needs to tone down its self-defense,” she said. “I do not agree.”

Concerns about anti-Semitism and Islamophobia

Despite their differences over the war and the underlying Israeli-Palestinian conflict, large majorities of California voters, across party lines, share concerns about an increase in anti-Jewish or anti-Arab violence or hate incidents.

When asked about anti-Semitic incidents:


% of California voters say they are concerned about them,


% wasn’t worried. In the same way,


% said they were concerned about anti-Arab or anti-Muslim incidents, compared to


% who were not concerned.

The poll showed very little division along ideological or party lines in concerns about anti-Semitism, but a noticeable partisan divide on anti-Muslim incidents.

Among Democrats, the portion that expressed concern about anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim hatred was about equality. Among the Republicans


% said they were concerned about anti-Semitism, while


% were not. But


% worried about anti-Muslim hatred, compared to


% who were not.

The Berkeley IGS poll surveyed 8,199 California registered voters. It took place online in English and Spanish on January 4 and 8.

The results are weighted to match census and voter registration benchmarks, so margin of error estimates may be inaccurate; however, the results

for the likely voter sample

have an estimated margin of error of 1.5 percentage points in either direction



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