From cable TV’s “Morning Joe” to social media video clipper Aaron Rupar, the president’s most partisan supporters have taken a cue from the man in the White House and presented a united front against left-leaning youth calling for an end to the war on Gaza. A demographic that four years ago could have been counted on to act as canvassers and valuable volunteers are now tuning out and turning off.

Joe Scarborough, the eponymous host of “Morning Joe,” has decided that the next best route is to lean into racist invective and genocide denial, declaring on Twitter that a new report had “halved” the number of women and children dead. It was a bold-faced lie, surprising even from him in its audacity, and one that prompted pushback from Farhan Haq, deputy spokesperson for the U.N. secretary-general. (Little wonder Scarborough’s future father-in-law, the late Zbigniew Brzezinski, once told him live on air, “You have such a stunningly superficial knowledge of what went on that it’s almost embarrassing to listen to you.”)

It’s a bold strategy that doesn’t appear to be working. A New York Times poll published on May 13 found that anger over the conflict is costing Biden and Democrats support. Gerald Willingham, a 30-year-old from Georgia, told the paper that the war on Gaza “made quite a bit of difference in that it made me more heavily than in the past push toward voting for a third party, even if I feel that the candidates almost 100% won’t win.”

“It’s starting to reach into my moral conscience, I guess,” he added.

ANew York Times poll published on May 13 found that anger over the conflict is costing Biden and Democrats support.

The results were enough to get Rupar, the Twitter video clipper, to call it “not a good poll for Biden.” Rupar seldom makes comments on his own. He’s a known White House sycophant who receives briefings from the administration’s press team and parrots talking points. This pays off, if that’s your kind of thing, with invites to Washington and meetings with the communications department. One hopes he’s in it for a plum position in White House comms should Biden win. Otherwise it’s just embarrassing.

Polling shows generalized dissatisfaction among young voters with the president. But the war on Gaza, while an example of youth anger, isn’t dominating their reasons for turning on the president. According to an early May Times analysis of recent polling on younger voter concerns, economic issues are most important. The polls were conducted before the student protest movement exploded, raising some questions about their relevance, but still show a small number of younger voters invested in the conflict. 

Nonetheless, the subject is dominating the national political conversation. Just look at outsized attention Biden backers heaped on the students who walked out on Jerry Seinfeld’s Duke commencement address on May 12. Focusing on the protests gives Biden boosters a convenient foil should Biden lose in November. On the left, meanwhile, activists and left leaning liberals can point to the president’s full throttle backing of the war as a red line they can’t cross. 

The former is just a cover of the tired old left-lost-the-election song we hear from Democrats whenever they lose. The latter reflects a real problem for Democrats, and one they seem uninterested in dealing with. 

The fact is, younger Democrats are losing interest and enthusiasm for the president’s campaign, a development that could have real consequences on get-out-the-vote efforts over the summer and into the fall. To their (limited) credit, Biden Bros like the “Morning Joe” crew understand this. The president’s favorite news program has been trying to appeal to their audience of one in early May, managing a war that’s spiraled out of control and attempting to bring the president into check before he created a disaster. 

The question is if he’ll lose critical voter blocs like the youth and the activist bases. Those groups tend to do more than just cast ballots.

That didn’t work. Biden has forged ahead with his unflinching, total support for Israel’s war on Gaza. His recent decision to pause a transfer of weapons in order to stop an invasion of the south Gaza city of Rafah has been insufficient, especially to those with an understanding of the conflict. Biden’s threats to consider further interruptions of arms transfers if the invasion goes forward are unlikely to land with much force, given reports from the strip of widespread fighting in the city proper. The president’s red line seems to be moving. 

Ultimately, any policy change on Gaza can only move the 2024 needle so far in either direction. Voters simply aren’t that interested in foreign affairs, and it’s seldom a defining issue in November. As I wrote last month, the question isn’t whether or not Biden will lose large swaths of voters. The question is if he’ll lose critical voter blocs like the youth and the activist bases. Those groups tend to do more than just cast ballots. They door-knock and get out the vote. Without their support, the campaign is going to be hard pressed to expand the coalition past the 2020 base, a necessity as an unpopular incumbent goes up against the guy who almost beat him last time.

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