Prominent Arab Middle East expert Dr. James Zogby says that President Obama is polling about 18 percent below his 2008 numbers among Arab-American (Christian) voters, but those Arab-Americans who are Muslims “overwhelmingly” support the Democratic candidate compared to four years ago.
NEWSMAX Zogby is founder and president of the Arab American Institute, a Washington, D.C.–based organization that serves as a political and policy research arm of the Arab-American community, and author of the book “Arab Voices: What They Are Saying to Us and Why it Matters.”
The Arab American Institute and JZ Analytics has just polled Arab-American voters in the key swing states of Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Virginia, and found that they favor Obama over Mitt Romney by a margin of 52 percent to 28 percent.
Arab-Americans in those five swing states number about 1.1 million, and 833,000 are eligible voters. Zogby was asked if this voting bloc could prove crucial in the election.“My sense is that this is going to be a close election and so every community matters, and Arab-Americans are one of those communities that will matter.
Asked to name the two top issues facing the United States, 27 percent of respondents cited foreign policy “but 80 percent-plus said the economy was their number one concern,” says Zogby, and they gave Obama very strong support on that issue. “Here’s my sense: Arab-Americans are supportive of the president. They’re disappointed in some of the policies of the president, disappointed in his Middle East policy to be sure. But the Republican side hasn’t given them any reason to reconsider their support.
“So they’re disappointed, maybe, in one side but they’re pretty much turned off by the other side. What we’re left with is a rock-solid Republican core — 20 or so percent of the Arab-American community is committed Republican but more than two times that are committed Democrats. They’re supporting Obama, they still want to believe that he’ll make change, they haven’t seen it, they’re a little disappointed but they’re very turned off by the approach that’s been taken by Mitt Romney and by what has become the mainstream in the Republican Party. The message has not been inviting to Arab-Americans.”
“The Muslim component is overwhelmingly, right now, in the Democratic camp. That was not the case in 2000, when they were split between the two. In fact, overall, back in 2000 and throughout the ‘90s, the community leaned Democratic, like many ethnic communities, by a two or three percent margin. “But beginning in 2002, that gap began to open up, reaching its peak in 2008, settled down a bit in 2010, and it is still more than two to one Democratic in 2012.
“The reasons are not so much faith as that the Republican Party has just turned them off, especially on the Muslim side, when you have everything from loyalty oaths in the Republican debate, whether Muslims should take an extra loyalty oath; the notion that you never met a Middle East country that you didn’t want to bomb; the very hard line on almost every issue involving the Middle East. Those things resonate not only with the Muslim part of the community, but with the broader community that recognized it as kind of intolerance and it scared them.
Zogby comments: “The independent base has grown as Democrats and Republicans are now divided by a more than two to one margin. Over a quarter of the community right now considers itself independent. They can be attracted to a Republican candidate but the Republican Party has to have a message that reaches them.
“Right now, it does not have a message that reaches them. It’s hostile on Middle East issues, hostile on the civil rights of people of Arab descent, very hostile on issues involving Islam and the Muslim community, and that’s not a winning formula to get votes.”