Israel and Hamas announced a cease-fire Wednesday after a week of intensified violence. But the cease-fire may do little to quell the conflict's partisan dimensions in the U.S., where attitudes divide sharply along age and party lines, a HuffPost/YouGov poll finds. Americans support Israel over the Palestinians by a 27-point margin, but while Republicans and those over 65 are steadfastly supportive of Israel, others are less inclined to take a side.
The online poll, conducted Tuesday and Wednesday before the announcement, found deeply divided opinions and little certainty about Israel's recent military action in Gaza, with 40 percent supporting it, 23 percent opposing it and 37 percent not sure. Reactions were similarly split to the possibility of an Israeli ground invasion into Gaza, with Americans about equally likely to back the idea, oppose it or have no opinion.
More broadly, 36 percent of Americans said they sympathize more with Israel and 9 percent more with the Palestinians -- roughly the same as in an Economist/YouGov poll from March, when Israeli worries about a nuclear-armed Iran made headlines. Another 13 percent said they sympathized with both sides, while 24 percent said neither side and 18 percent were unsure.
Two-thirds of Republicans said they sympathized with Israel, and just 2 percent with the Palestinians. Democrats, by contrast, were equally inclined to support Israel, both sides or neither, and only slightly less likely to sympathize mainly with the Palestinians.
Americans over 65 were also firmly in Israel's camp, while those under 30 were most likely to express no opinion or sympathy for either group.
Americans who stood behind either side were likely to suspect the president disagreed with them. A majority of Israel's supporters said President Obama sympathized with the Palestinians, while a plurality of Palestinian supporters said he backed Israel. Half of Republicans thought Obama was closer to the Palestinian side, compared to 4 percent of Democrats and 21 percent of independents.
Overall, an identical 22 percent of Americans said that Obama sympathized more with Israel, or more with the Palestinians.
Speaking to reporters last weekend, Obama said the U.S. was "fully supportive of Israel's right to defend itself," but warned against further escalation, which he said could seriously derail any peace process.
The HuffPost/YouGov poll interviewed 1,000 adults online between Nov. 20 and Nov. 21, with a 4.5 percent margin of error. It used a sample that was selected from YouGov's opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population. Factors considered include age, race, gender, education, employment, income, marital status, number of children, voter registration, time and location of Internet access, interest in politics, religion and church attendance.