The Wall Street Journal had an unusual and insightful election report today (3/17): “Arab-Americans Sour on Bush.”
The article focuses on Arab Americans, a formerly solid G.O.P. voting bloc in “battleground states.” The Journal reports on a new Zogby International poll of voters in four key states — Florida, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania — reveals that “Arab-Americans strongly disapprove of Mr. Bush. Only 28% favor his re-election, while 65% want someone new.”
It should come as no surpise that Arab-Americans are not pleased with White House policies: As a group, they are upset about “Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Iraq war and the erosion of civil liberties for Arab Muslim immigrants in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.”
Oh, and running an advert with dark skinned Arab man as terrorists somehow didn’t make the situation better. Go figure.
Impact of Arab American Voters in Close States, 2004
State Arab Americans 2000 Margin of Victory Electoral Votes Florida 120,000 537 27 Michigan 235,000 217,279 17 Ohio 85,000 165,019 20 Pennsylvania 75,000 204,840 21
I was surprised to learn where these voters are concentrated: In crucial swing states, there are over half a million Arab voters. The Zogby poll discovered that Arab Americans who formerly supported Bush in 2000 are now abandoning the President — and in large numbers. Here’s how the data shakes out:
“Under current trends, perhaps 170,000 voters in the four states who in 2000 supported Mr. Bush, might shift this year to the Democratic candidate, Sen. John Kerry. That assumes Ralph Nader, who is Lebanese-American, stays in the race. If he doesn’t, 30,000 more Bush supporters from 2000 would switch to Mr. Kerry. If the contest is as tight as last time, those votes could prove decisive. . .
The group most in flux is Arab-American Muslims, who represent 25% of the 510,000 Arab-Americans likely to vote in those four states, according to the Zogby poll. In 2000, they preferred Mr. Bush to Mr. Gore 58% to 22%. But this year they are staunchly opposed to Mr. Bush, preferring Mr. Kerry 78% to 12% in a two-man race.”
These are stunning statistics from crucial electoral States.
The GOP has been surprisingly lackadaisacal about pursuing this group of former supporters. Meanwhile, “Democrats have been working hard” at cultivating Arab-American support:
“If the election were held today, in a one-on-one race with John Kerry, 54% of Arab-American voters would back the Massachusetts Democrat, and 30% would support Mr. Bush. Mr. Nader is a wild card; if he is on the ballot in the four states that Zogby International polled, Mr. Kerry’s lead would fall to 43%, with Mr. Nader drawing 20% and Mr. Bush 27%. In the latest national poll, released this week and conducted by CBS News and the New York Times, Mr. Nader drew 7% of overall voter support.”
The White House still has some hope with the group, which has been left wondering why they hven’t been courted yet:
It isn’t a lost cause for Mr. Bush, Arab-American leaders say. While they are unhappy with the president, they have yet to fall in love with Mr. Kerry — which explains the strong support for Mr. Nader, Mr. Zogby notes. The Democratic candidate voted for the Patriot Act, which Arab-Americans blame for some civil-liberties violations. Arab-Americans complain Mr. Kerry has sent mixed signals on Israel, particularly on the West Bank partition. Bush-Cheney spokesman Mr. Stanzel believes that Republican-leaning Arab-Americans will return to the Bush fold once they have had a chance to compare their choices.
As we have mentioned several times previously, Ralph Nader continues to be a surprisingly significant factor. The race, at this point, appears close enough in swing electoral states that if the consumer gadfly garners a mere 1%, he could swing the election. That assumes, of course, that people will vote for a 3rd party candidate they claim to support. In the past, that correlation has been less than 100%, and this election, its likely to be significantly so.
Here’s one last interesting coincidence: James Zogby is president of the Arab American Institute. If you recognize that name, its because his brother John runs Zogby International, the polling firm.
This race gets more fascinating every day.
Arab-Americans Sour on Bush
Bloc Carries Weight For Campaigns In Pivotal States
WALL STREET JOURNAL, March17,2004;PageA4
Poll: Bush losing Arab-American support
Presidential Election of 2000, Electoral and Popular Vote Summary