Campus Protests May Be Backfiring

Public opinion is firmly against the campus protesters opposing the Israel-Hamas war and there are signs that they are producing a backlash.

President Joe Biden and Democrats face the difficult choice of whether to alienate their left-wing base or swing voters.

The results offer a framework for discussing the protesters’ motivations and demands.

Click here to read the full report… or read the summary below.

Most Oppose Campus Protests but Democrats Split

  • 55% of Americans oppose the campus protests over the Israel-Hamas war while 34% support them. The strong opinions about the protests are even more lopsided, with 37% strongly opposed and 11% strongly supporting them.
  • 77% of Republicans and 55% of independents oppose the protests. Among Democrats, however, opinion is flipped, with 34% opposed and 53% in support.
  • Gen Z is the most supportive of the campus protests, with 56% in support and 29% opposed. This includes 29% who strongly support the protests and 13% who strongly oppose. The mean age of voters who support the protests is 44 years while the mean age of voters who oppose the protests is 54 years.
  • 63% of America’s New Majority voters oppose the protests while 23% support them. This includes 44% of undecided New Majority voters and 48% of those who plan to vote Democrat for Congress in 2024.
  • 54% of Left Minority voters support the protests, with 21% strongly supporting them.

Most Say Protests Have Gone Too Far

  • 62% of Americans say the protests have gone too far while just 5.9% say they haven’t gone far enough.  Those saying the protests have gone too far include 47% of Democrats, 38% of Gen Z (a plurality) and 34% of those who support the protests.
  • 71% of New Majority voters say the protests have gone too far, including 52% of those undecided about the 2024 election for congress and 61% who plan to vote for a Democrat.
  • 42% of Left Minority voters say the protests have gone too far.

Most Say Antisemitism Motivates Protesters

  • 71% say that antisemitism plays a major or minor role in the motivations of the protesters, including 81% of Republicans, 64% of Democrats, and 71% of swing voters.
  • 42% say antisemitism plays a “major role.” Including 58% of Republicans, 32% of Democrats, and 38% of swing voters. 
  • 14% say antisemitism is not a factor, including 6% of Republicans, 20% of Democrats and 14% of swing voters.

Taking the Side of Terrorists

  • 47% agree the protesters are taking the side of Hamas and other terrorist groups while 29% disagree.
  • There is a significant gender and age divide. 60% of men agree the protesters are taking the side of terrorists but only 35% of women. 37% of Gen Z voters agree compared to 58% of Boomer voters.
  • 55% of New Majority voters agree the protesters are taking the side of Hamas and other terrorist groups, including majorities or pluralities of all New Majority voting groups.
  • Left Minority voters are the opposite, with 28% agreeing the protesters are taking the side of Hamas and other terrorist groups and 46% opposing.

Don’t Give In

  • 53% say colleges and universities should suspend and arrest the protesters compared to 19% who say they should agree to the protesters’ demands that the universities cut ties with Israel linked companies and give amnesty for the protesters.
  • Once again there is a significant age divide, with 45% of Gen Z voters saying the colleges should agree to the protesters’ demands compared to just 8% of Baby Boomer voters. 

Change Since February Suggests Protest Backlash

  • 67% of American say they are closely following news of the Israel-Hamas war. This includes 22% who say they are following the news “very closely.”  This is similar to our results from February.
  • Americans are still divided on if Israel’s military response to the Hamas terrorist attack is “a genocide,” with 40% agreeing it is a genocide and 39% disagreeing. This result is within the margin of error of our results from February.
  • There has, however, been a reduction in the number of Americans who agree Biden’s support of Israel is enabling a genocide in Gaza, with 28% agreeing and 51% disagreeing. This is down from the 31% agreeing and 55% disagreeing in February.
  • 44% of Americans support President Biden applying pressure on Israel to accept a ceasefire even if Hamas has not been fully defeated, while 39% oppose. This is down from the 49% who supported Biden’s pressure and the 35.3% who opposed when we asked the question in February.
  • 52% say the goal of the U.S. should be to end the war as soon as possible compared to 35% who say it should be to support Israel until they eliminate Hamas. This is down slightly from the 55% who said end the war as soon as possible in February.