August 3, 2014
8/3: Americans Not Optimistic About Middle East Peace; Polarized Electorate for 2014 Agrees on Do Nothing Congress
Americans are not confident a lasting peace agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians is in the foreseeable future. Although Republicans are more likely than Democrats to doubt a settlement can be reached, a majority of Americans, regardless of party, are not encouraged. There is also a greater consensus among Republicans in their support for Israel. About four in ten Democrats and independents also sympathize with the Israelis over the Palestinians, but the plurality of each of these groups is not sure with which side they have more empathy.
When it comes to an assessment of the accomplishments of the current Congress, most Americans agree, regardless of party, that Congress has come up short. More than seven in ten believe this year’s congressional output has been abysmal. Nearly half of Americans describe the session as having been very unproductive. Partisan lines are quickly drawn though when people are asked about their hopes for the results of this fall’s elections. Democrats and Republicans each hope their respective party will control both the House and Senate.
Poll Points: Middle East
- 62% of Americans do not believe the Israelis and the Palestinians will be able to forge a lasting peace in the Middle East. 71% of Republicans, 66% of independents, and 53% of Democrats hold this view.
- There is also a notable difference among age groups. People under 45 are less pessimistic about a potential settlement than their older counterparts.
- Americans’ sympathies are more likely to be with Israel than the Palestinians. However, only 43% of the U.S. public sides with Israel, 43% are unsure, and 14% empathize with the Palestinians. 66% of Republicans align with Israel compared with 39% of independents and 35% of Democrats.
- There is little sympathy among Americans for Hamas. 54% of Americans side with Israel and only 7% are more sympathetic to Hamas. Yet, there is a significant partisan divide. 73% of Republicans back Israel over Hamas. 46% of Democrats sympathize with Israel, but 44% are unsure.
Poll Points: Congress
- 72% of Americans believe Congress has been unproductive this year including 47% who describe their work as very unproductive. 23% characterize it as productive including only 3% who view their accomplishments as very productive.
- This low opinion of Congress cuts across partisan lines. 77% of independents, 73% of Republicans, and 71% of Democrats give Congress a thumbs down.
- However, partisanship resurfaces when Americans express their hopes for the outcome of the 2014 elections. Overall, Americans split, 42% Democrats to 41% Republicans, as to whom they want to emerge with the majority in Congress next term. 85% of Democrats and 92% of Republicans want their respective party to win the majority. Independents lean Republican 38% to 34%.
- Americans divide along similar lines when expressing their wishes for the results of the U.S. Senate. 43% want the Democrats to hold the majority and 42% want Republicans to control the Senate. Again, party differences are stark. 83% of Democrats want their party to hold the Senate, and 94% of Republicans want their party to take over the chamber. Independents evenly divide, 38% to 38%.
- In both instances, independents are most undecided about which party they favor. However, about one in ten Democrats are also unsure about which party they want to see control each chamber. Fewer Republicans are uncertain.