Inter Press Service– April 28, 2004
Arab-American Vote Looms Large
WASHINGTON, Apr 28, 2004 (IPS) - Arab-Americans, one of the U.S.' smallest ethnic minorities, could well tip the balance against President George W Bush's re-election, according to a survey released Wednesday of four key battleground states where the vote could be decided.
The poll, conducted by Zogby International for the Washington-based Arab American Institute (AAI), found, if current opinions hold through November, Bush could suffer a net loss of one-third (170,000) Arab-American votes in the four states compared to the 2000 elections, when he won a solid plurality of those votes.
Such a loss could prove decisive in the four states -- Florida, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania -- where Bush and Democratic candidate John Kerry are focusing much of their early campaign efforts precisely because the races are expected to be extremely close.
In the United States, the winner of the presidential balloting within each state receives all of the state's electoral votes regardless of the margin of their victory.
''Anything that can move thousands -- or even hundreds of votes -- can have a seismic effect on the (national) outcome'', said John Zogby, who conducted the polling.
With a population of at least 3.5 million, Arab-Americans make up a little over one percent of the U.S. population. At the same time, their voter turnout, which is higher than that of most other U.S. groups, is expected to hit close to two million this year, or about 1.5 percent of all voters.
But the Arab-American population is also disproportionately concentrated in a relatively few states, such as California and New York -- where Kerry is expected to win handily in November -- as well as the four states surveyed in the latest poll.
Pollsters chose the states both because of their larger-than-average Arab-American populations and because they are four of about a dozen states -- most of them in the Great Lakes region of north-central United States -- where the presidential vote is expected to be particularly close.
The likely Arab-American vote (about 235,000) in Michigan represents slightly more than five percent of the overall vote in that state, according to the Zogby poll. With 120,000 likely votes, it would account for about two percent of the total in Florida; in Ohio, an estimated 85,000 votes (just under two percent), and in Pennsylvania, 75,000 votes, or about 1.6 percent of total votes.
In 2000, Bush beat Democratic candidate Al Gore by 165,000 votes, while Gore defeated Bush in both Michigan and Pennsylvania by slightly more than 200,000 votes in each state. The two fought to a virtual tie in Florida, whose decisive electoral votes were eventually awarded to Bush as a result of a highly controversial Supreme Court ruling.
Support for Kerry was particularly high among immigrant Arab-Americans who, in a two-way race, said they would vote by a margin of 60-19 percent for Kerry, with 21 percent undecided. That compared with a 46-34-21 percent spread for Arab Americans born in the United States.
Similarly, support in a two-way race for Kerry was highest, at 62 percent, among Muslim Arab-Americans, of whom only 10 percent said they favored Bush. Among Christian Arab-Americans, Kerry's lead was significantly less, at only 46-37 percent.
IslamOnline.net – April 28, 2004
Arab Americans To Widely Vote For Kerry: Poll
WASHINGTON, April 28, 2004 (IslamOnline.net & News Agencies) – A majority of Arab Americans in four battleground states would vote for democratic candidate John Kerry if presidential elections were held Thursday, April 29, a poll unveiled.
The poll, conducted by the Washington-based Arab American Institute, found that 49 percent of all Arab-American voters in Florida, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania - all swing states in the November election - would vote for Kerry, while 30 percent would vote for incumbent Republican President George W. Bush.
However, with Ralph Nader - an American of Lebanese descent - in the mix, Kerry's support would slip to 45 percent, and Bush's to 28 percent, while the independent contender would get 14 percent of the vote.
The poll is based on interviews with 503 Arab-American voters in the four states and has a 4.5 percent margin of error.
The 3.5 Arab Americans have around 1.7 million votes, or around one percent of an electorate of about 110 million U.S. voters.
But what adds value to their votes is that they have a high turnout rate, said Arab American Institute President James Zogby.
"Anything that moves hundreds or thousands of votes can have a seismic impact on this election," he was quoted by Agence France-Presse (AFP) as saying.
Though there are only about 510,000 likely Arab-American voters in the states, the race could be close enough that even relatively small numbers could make a difference, Zogby said.
In 2000, Democrat Al Gore won Michigan and Pennsylvania by just over than 200,000 votes in each state, while Bush won Ohio by 165,000 and the two tied in Florida.
The poll results indicate a shift in the choice of Arab Americans in the four states who supported Bush in the 2000 presidential elections.
Pollster John Zogby - James Zogby's brother - recently returned from conducting focus group polling in Dearborn, Michigan, home to one of the largest Arab-American communities in the United States.
"The anger among Arab-Americans towards Bush is palpable," he stressed.
Shortly after the 9/11 attacks, which Washington blamed on Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden, the administration introduced a number of repressive measures through antiterrorism laws deemed by human rights groups as a constitutional threat allowing arrests of "terror suspects".
The Patriot Act, passed by Congress a few weeks after the events, grants the FBI powers to secretly obtain a variety of information about ordinary Americans, as a crucial weapon in the war on terrorism.
Nearly 57 percent of American Muslims polled by an Islamic organization in 2002, say they have experienced bias or discrimination since the attacks and 87 percent know of a fellow Muslim who experienced discrimination.
Feeling ostracized and betrayed by these laws, Arab Americans are trying to show they can be a mighty political force and key player in this year's presidential election.
James Zogby said that 72 percent of those polled considered the Arab-Israeli conflict "very important".
Arab American voters do not give high marks to any of the candidates in dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
On the divisive issue of Israel and the Palestinians, 22 percent said they had more confidence in Kerry, 16 percent picked Bush and 48 percent said neither, Zogby said.
Bush had triggered worldwide wrath by saying, with Israeli Premier Ariel Sharon at his side in a press conference, that Palestinian refugees could not return to land lost in 1948 and that Israel could retain occupation of lands in the West Bank, in what is dubbed as a "Bushfour Promise".
The U.N. and the European Union immediately rebuked the American policy shift, which completely ignored dozens of U.N. resolutions in that regard.
"But there is also disappointment with Kerry," said the pollster Zogby.
Kerry supported Bush’s statements, much of an attempt to curry favor with the decisive votes of the influential Jewish Americans.