Three quarters of highly educated, high income, publicly active US Democrats — the so-called “opinion elites” — believe Israel has too much influence on US foreign policy, almost half of them consider Israel to be a racist country, and fewer than half of them believe that Israel wants peace with its neighbors. These are among the findings of a new survey carried out by US political consultant Frank Luntz.
Detailing the survey results to The Times of Israel on Sunday, Luntz called the findings “a disaster” for Israel. He summed them up by saying that the Democratic opinion elites are converting to the Palestinians, and “Israel can no longer claim to have the bipartisan support of America.”
He said he “knew there was a shift” in attitudes to Israel among US Democrats “and I have been seeing it get worse” in his ongoing polls. But the new findings surprised and shocked him, nonetheless. “I didn’t expect it to become this blatant and this deep.”
A prominent US political consultant known best for his work with Republicans, Luntz is meeting with a series of high-level Israeli officials this week to discuss the survey and consult on how to grapple with the trends it exposes.
“Israel has won the hearts and minds of Republicans in America, while at the same time it is losing the Democrats,” he said. On US politics, “I’m right of center,” he added. “But the Israeli government and US Jews have to focus on repairing relations with the Democrats.”
Luntz put a series of largely Israel-related questions to 802 members of the opinion elites and his findings have a 3.5% margin of error. The survey, sponsored by the Jewish National Fund, was conducted last week. Among the key findings:
• Asked about Israeli influence on US foreign policy, an overwhelming 76% of Democrats, as compared to 20% of Republicans, said Israel has “too much influence.”
• Asked whether Israel is a racist country, 47% of Democrats agreed it is, as opposed to 13% of Republicans. Another 21% of Democrats didn’t know or were neutral (as opposed to 12% of Republicans), and only 32% of Democrats disagreed when asked if Israel is a racist country, as opposed to 76% of Republicans. (Overall 32% of those polled said Israel is a racist country.)
• Asked whether Israel wants peace with its neighbors, while an overwhelming 88% of Republicans said it does, a far lower 48% of Democrats agreed. Another 21% of Democrats didn’t know or were neutral (as compared to 7% of Republicans). And 31% of Democrats did not think Israel wants peace (as compared to 5% of Republicans).
• Asked whether they would be more likely to vote for a local politician who supported Israel and its right to defend itself, an overwhelming 76% of Republicans said yes, but only 18% of Democrats said yes. Meanwhile, only 7% of Republicans — but 32% of Democrats — said they would be less likely to support a local politician who backed Israel.
• Asked whether they would be more likely to vote for a local politician who criticized Israeli occupation and mistreatment of Palestinians, 45% of Democrats said yes, compared to just 6% of Republicans. Asked whether they would be less likely to vote for a local politician who criticized Israeli occupation and mistreatment of Palestinians, a whopping 75% of Republicans said yes, compared to just 23% of Democrats.
• Asked whether the US should support Israel or the Palestinians, a vast 90% of Republicans and a far lower 51% of Democrats said Israel. Another 8% of Republicans and 31% of Democrats were neutral. And 18% of Democrats said the Palestinians, compared to 2% of Republicans. Overall, 68% of those polled said the US should support Israel, and 10% said the US should support the Palestinians.
• Asked about which side they themselves support, 88% of Republicans and 46% of Democrats said they were “pro-Israeli” while 4% of Republicans and 27% of Democrats said they were “pro-Palestinian.”
• Asked if settlements are an impediment to peace, 75% of Democrats and 25% of Republicans agreed.
Read more at TIMES OF ISRAEL.