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25 percent of Muslim voters undecided in presidential election

By       Message Abdus-Sattar Ghazali     Permalink
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At least 25 percent of American Muslim registered voters are still undecided about who to vote for in this November's presidential election, according to a survey released Wednesday (Oct 24, 2012).

The survey also indicates that 91 percent of registered Muslim voters will go to the polls on November 6.

The random survey of 500 registered Muslim voters was conducted in the first two weeks of October. It was held by an independent research firm on behalf of the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a leading American Muslim civil advocacy group.

Sixty-eight percent of the survey respondents said they will vote to re-elect President Obama. Only seven percent said they will vote for Mitt Romney. American Muslims tilt toward the Democratic Party was reflected when more than 100 Muslim delegates representing some 20 states attended the Democratic convention in Charlotte, N.C., in September last. That's up from 25 delegates in 2004.

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"These results indicate that a large percentage of American Muslim voters are still open to appeals from presidential candidates and that American Muslims are potentially in a position to decide this year's election," said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad.

The seven million strong American Muslim minority community has become a more important player on the political landscape, especially in key swing states, says a report titled Engaging American Muslims: Political Trends and Attitudes released in April last by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding. According to Farid Senzai, author of the report, although it is true that American Muslims constitute a small percentage of the national population, they are concentrated in key swing states such as Michigan, Ohio, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Florida.

It may be recalled that American Muslims overwhelmingly voted for the Democratic Presidential candidate Senator Barrak Obama in the 2008 election. On November 6, 2008, the American Muslim Task Force, a coalition of major civil advocacy organizations, released a poll of over 600 Muslims from more than 10 states, including Florida and Pennsylvania, and it revealed that 89 percent of respondents voted for Obama, while only 2 percent voted for his Republican opponent John McCain.   It also indicated that 95 percent of Muslims polled cast a ballot in this year's presidential election--the highest turnout in a U.S. election ever--and 14 percent of those were first-time voters.

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In 2008 presidential election, Muslim Americans changed their party affiliation from Republican to Democratic -- a stark change from the strong Muslim support for George Bush in 2000 when they voted for Bush in an en bloc vote. The major shift occurred as many Muslim Americans became subject to wiretapping, mishandling of civil liberties, religious, ethnic, and racial profiling. According to the Newsweek, in 2008, many more Muslims were drawn into the Democratic party by Obama himself since Muslims across the country were captivated by the senator's promise of unity and hope.

The findings of the latest survey were released at CAIR's joint news conference with the American Muslim Taskforce on Civil Rights and Elections, a national coalition of major Muslim organizations.   The survey finds:

  • The top five issues of importance to American Muslim voters are jobs and the economy, education, health care policy, Medicare and Social Security, and civil rights.
  • 55 percent of Muslim voters consider themselves moderate and 26 percent liberal, while 16 percent consider themselves conservative.
  • The percentage of those who said they are closer to the Democratic Party grew from 49 percent in a similar poll taken in 2008 to 66 percent today. Affiliation with the Republican Party remained nearly the same, with a 1 percent increase from 8 percent in 2008 to 9 percent today.
  • 49 percent of respondents said that the Democratic Party was friendly towards Muslims, while 12 percent said that the Republican Party was friendly. Conversely, 51 percent of respondents said that the Republican Party was unfriendly towards Muslims, while 6 percent said that the Democratic Party was unfriendly.
  • 35 percent of respondents say they have experienced religious or ethnic profiling or discrimination post-9/11. The same percentage say they experienced kind treatment by neighbors or co-workers in that period.
  • Half of those polled attend a mosque at least once a month.
  • 70 percent of Muslim respondents say they have a four-year or graduate degree, compared to 34 percent college attendance for the entire population.
  • On international issues, 68 percent of respondents say the U.S. should provide support to those fighting for freedom in Syria and 76 percent say the U.S. and NATO made the right decision by intervening in the Libyan revolution.
  • When asked to name an organization that best represents the interests of American Muslims, 65 percent of those who responded named CAIR.

The Muslim voters survey climaxed the intensive campaigns by the leading American Muslim civil advocacy groups to mobilize the Muslim voters. As part of its non-partisan election activities, the CAIR has distributed "MVP - Muslim Voter Power" get-out-the-vote posters and lawn signs to mosques and other Islamic institutions nationwide. CAIR has also acquired a national list of registered Muslims voters and its chapters around the nation are currently conducting non-partisan efforts to turn out those voters in November.

The CAIR partnered with the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) as part of its efforts to empower minority voters.

Another leading civil advocacy organization, the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) also issued a 32-page Election Kit - My Faith. My Vote. My Future -- to encourage and actively engage American Muslims in the upcoming elections.

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Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)

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