Will Students Protesting Biden’s Handling of Israel War Impact Election Prospects?

President Joe Biden isn’t making any friends with students at college campuses, as he condemned the recent anti-Israel protests that are taking place around the country.

The backlash that Biden has received from the people who oppose the war in Gaza have raised some questions about where Biden really stands with young voters.

To this point, though, aides for the Biden campaign have said they don’t believe this will balloon into what could become an issue for his reelection bid. What they say is that the people who are protesting are just a very small subset of a small subset of the overall electorate, and have gotten a disproportionate amount of media coverage compared to how much political clout they actually have.

Politico quoted a Biden campaign official, who requested to remain anonymous to speak freely about how the campaign is thinking, as saying:

“What is happening in Gaza is not the top issue for [young voters]. It’s not going to be for the vast majority of young voters the thing that’s going to determine whether they vote or how they vote. The reality is that the folks that are organizing, the goal of that organizing is to make it seem that way and to bring that attention to it.”

While the Biden administration is brushing aside the impact that these protests could have on the president’s reelection chances, polling is consistently showing that he’s behind among young voters compared to the level of support that he had during the 2020 election.

That being said, Biden still polls ahead of challenger Donald Trump among young voters.

What the Biden campaign believes is the main issue among young voters is the economy, rather than the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

A Harvard Youth Poll that was released recently showed that 27% of people said that the issue that concerns them the most is the economy. Only 8% said the same about national security issues and foreign policy.

And only 2% of the people who responded to that poll said they believe the conflict between “Israel/Palestine” was the issue of most concern to them.

The Harvard Kennedy School Institute of Politics’ director of polling, John Della Volpe, commented on this recently by saying:

“As of two weeks ago, I have not seen evidence that this is on its way to being a cultural phenomenon. One of the more enlightening findings [and] it was somewhat surprising from the poll last week was that despite what we’re seeing … this isn’t an issue that most young people are prioritizing right now.”

Over the last few months, the White House has worked to engage more stakeholders and be more public about the disagreements it’s having with the Israeli government over the approach to the war. Administration officials have also expressed much more empathy to the people who are protesting the war than they did originally.