Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Arab/Muslim Voting Shift

Now is much talk in the mass media pumping up how 'moral values' voters increased and that Bush improved his stature among most demographic. But absent from CNN's bar graphs is a comprehensive look at the Muslim and Arab American vote. Traditionally speaking Arabs and Muslims lean Republican as most of them are social conservatives and the Arabs in particular are in business or at least very concerned with the economy. Moreover Bush in 2000 was a break from Clinton's unpopular Middle Eastern policies. He had been bombing Iraq for eight years and the sanctions were very rough on hundreds of thousands Iraqi children, also he was weak on Israel and let Barak slip out of a peace deal. Bush was seen as person who could restart and finish the peace process. Accordingly Bush won a convincing victory over Gore among Muslim voters.

A Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) poll stated in 2000 Bush won 72%, Nader got 19% while Gore could only manage 8%. That's pretty pathetic performance among the estimated 6-8 million Muslim Americans for Gore. This isn't too surprising as Gore did chose a Jewish running mate with didn't help him out. Although impressive for Nader who is the most famous Arab-American on record.

According to the Arab-American Institute (AAI) the 2000 election was a little closer as Bush won 46%, Gore 38% and I could not find figures for Nader but I guessing he got at least 12% and possibly up 15% of the vote. The American Arab vote doesn't overlap too much with the Muslim vote as only 25% of the estimated 3 million Arab-American voters are actually Muslim as most of their community is from Lebanon, Palestine, and Egypt.

Needless to say the Bush's Arab and Muslim supporters did not bargain for his first term actions. Ashcroft unconstitutional detention of thousands of Muslims, -which was mostly ignored by mainstream media- the Patriot Act, one of the worst fiscal policies on record and of course the topper- Bush's exploits in the Middle East. Beside being the most ardent and unthinking supporter of Israel among his predecessors in the Oval Office and his steadily worsening adventure in Iraq destroyed whatever goodwill he got in form of translators and huge support he received in the wake of 9/11.
And dismissing 6 Arabic speaking translators simply because of their homosexual identity is probably not the best thing for national security.

The result: an amazing voting shift among the American Arab and Muslim communities.
CAIR estimated over 80% and possibly up to 90% of Muslims voted for Kerry. While in the four battleground states of Michigan, Ohio, Florida, and Pennsylvania the AAI reported Kerry won 63% of the vote while Bush only managed 28.5% this time around.

Lessons: This shift may be a one time deal as Bush has been a particularly bad Republican president from a economic, civil liberties, and foreign policy point of view so the Democrats have to reach to the Arab and Muslim much better then Kerry did. If they can make this shift permanent then they will have added a voting demographic of growing importance. Greater voter turnout will allow the now weak Arab lobby to wield more power. Although they are growing and the Jewish American population is shrinking the Arab and Islamic lobbies can not hope to reach their power for a long time.

Jews in the 109th congress- 29 in the House of Representatives and 11 in the Senate. -An 11% Jewish Senate is impressive as they comprise 2% of the population. And I could go on forever about the power Jewish neoconservatives hold in the current administration.

Compare the above with the number of Arabs in the House. It comes to four. And even more distressing for the Muslim community- there is not a single Muslim congressman. This is hilarious if you look at Iran and see how there is a Jew and 3 Christians in their parliament. And you think of Bush preaching the need for more democracy in Iran.

But that aside both parties must do more to court the ever growing Arab and Muslim especially the Democrats who stand to lose all the Arab and Muslim votes that Bush's policies gave them.



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