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September 21, 2004

Poll Numbers for Jewish-, Arab-, and Moslem-Americans

It's interesting how the Muslim and Jewish vote is going in the 2004 election. Best indications are that Muslims have shifted en masse from Bush (whom they supported in 2000) to Kerry, while the Jewish vote is going to be as solidly Democratic as ever. This is the main reason why my electoral college map gives Michigan to Kerry.

I decided to collect data on this. Bottom line: the best, though not top-caliber polls say the Muslim Arab-American vote is Kerry 96, Bush 4 of voters making a choice, and the Jewish vote is Kerry 77, Bush 23....

...The article, "U.S. Jews, Arabs in vote flip-flop?" says:

In 2000, Bush got about 19 percent of the Jewish vote, and the Bush-Cheney campaign is determined to raise that significantly.

Arab Americans helped elect Bush in 2000. He won 45 percent of Arab American votes nationwide, while Al Gore won only 38 percent and Ralph Nader, 13 percent.

Daniel Pipes has been keeping tabs on this. A Zogby polled 502 Arab-American voters in 4 key states during September 9-12. Note that one must not confuse "Moslem-Americans" with "Arab-Americans". In Zogby's poll of Arab-Americans, his subjects were 35% Roman Catholic, 28% Orthodox, 24% Muslim, and 13% Other/No Affiliation. That reduces his sample down to 102 Moslems, which is too small to be very dependable. Nonetheless, he's a reputable pollster, so it must be a random sample, which is more important than being a big sample, and the results are overwhelming as far as the Moslem Arab-Americans are concerned:

Roman Catholic Orthodox Muslim
Bush 40 50 3
Kerry 46 31 70
Other/Not Sure 14 19 27

Roman Catholic Orthodox Muslim
Bush 40 49 2
Kerry 44 33 65
Nader 6 9 15
Other/Not Sure 10 9 19

Most Arab-Americans are apparently Christian-- just think of all the Lebanese and Palestinians (not to mention Egyptian Copts and Iraqi Assyrians) who found things too hot for them back in the Middle East. Zogby says, "The voters came from four states (Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania), reflecting the overall demographic profile of the national Arab American community." The Arab World has become decreasingly Christian (and Jewish) and a lot of those who fled came to America. It's important, too, to keep in mind that many (most?) Moslem-Americans are not Arab-Americans-- think of all the Black Muslims and the people of Indian and Indonesian ancestry.

As you can see above, Bush and Kerry split the Roman Catholic vote, and Bush has a definite edge with the Orthodox Arab-Americans. It would be interesting to know how the religion's politics split on specific issues. An April 2004 poll by Zogby found that Arab-Americans as a whole-- Moslems and Christians combined-- were almost exactly split on who would do better on Israel-Palestine-- Bush, Kerry, or Nader (27-22-25)-- and on Iraq they rated Bush and Kerry as about equal and Nader as distinctly worse (37-34-16).

Turning to different data, ann unscientific poll of Muslims was done by the notorious Council on American-Islamic Relations:

The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) reported that 54 percent of eligible Muslim voters said they would vote for Kerry, while 26 percent favored Nader. A sizable 14 percent of Muslim voters said they are still undecided. (Fifty-five percent of the respondents said they voted for President Bush in the 2000 election.)

As Daniel Pipes says,

CAIR's Unscientific Polling The Council on American-Islamic Relations has a tradition of conducting straw polls (questions "were faxed and e-mailed to Muslim individuals and organizations nationwide" it helpfully informs) and then pawning these off as scientific surveys, which then get picked up by guillible reporters. Straw poll results released today of 644 individuals, however specious, do have an interesting implication. In "Poll: U.S. Muslims Increase Political Activity Since 9/11," CAIR announces that American Muslims would vote for, among Democratic candidates for president, Howard Dean (26 percent), Dennis Kucinich (11 percent), John Kerry (7 percent), and Carol Moseley Braun (6 percent). "Only 2 percent said they would vote for President Bush."

As for the Jewish vote, the August 17 Washington Times discusses the poll by Anna Greenberg for the partisan National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC).

Mr. Kerry, the Democratic nominee, leads Mr. Bush 75 percent to 22 percent. That share is four percentage points less than the 79 percent that exit polls said was won by the 2000 Democratic ticket of Al Gore and Sen. Joe Lieberman -- the first Jewish candidate ever on a major-party presidential ticket.


The NJDC poll of 817 self-identified Jews who said they are likely to vote was taken July 26 to 28 and has a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points.

Although partisan, this sounds like a scientific poll. Jewishweek.com has more to say about it (I couldn't find the poll report itself in a quick search):

When asked "which two of the following issue areas would be MOST important to you in deciding how to vote for a candidate for President?" Israel was mentioned by 15 percent of the respondents -- far behind "terrorism and national security" and "the economy and jobs" at 42 percent, "affordable health care" and "the situation in Iraq" at 24 percent, and "Social Security and Medicare" at 19.

In the NJDC poll, 73 percent of the respondents said they attend synagogue "several times a year" or "hardly ever," and 60 percent reported belonging to no Jewish organizations.

My reading of this is that Moslem-Americans care a lot about their religion, and I bet most of them think we should not have removed Saddam Hussein from power. It would be interesting to ask this question in a poll, as well as whether Israel should be eliminated a country. Most Jewish-Americans, however, are thoroughly assimilated, except for not having adopted Christianity after they left religious Judaism, so they fit the typical political profile of non-religious Americans. That means being heavily Democratic, with no particular attachment to Israel. Being Jewish-American is like being Norwegian-American, an ethnic identity, often strongly felt, but without implications for sympathy with foreigners like Israelis or Norwegians.

This is not inconsistent with the existence of powerful, Jewish, pro-Israel lobbyists. Israel's strongest if not most numerous supporters are Jewish; but it does not follow that all Jews are strong supporters of Israel. Most American Christians do not even notice, much less care about foreign persecution of Christians, even though the strongest lobbying against such persecution is by Christians. And I would expect to see much different political beliefs among devout Jews, even loosely defined as Jews who attend a synagogue at least once a month.

Thus, it is quite clear that if we just look at Jewish and Muslim votes, Bush has had a net loss of support because of the Iraq War. Adding in Arab-Americans generally would help to dilute the loss from Muslim-Americans, but would not outweigh it. For the chief political influence of the Iraq War, though, we need to look at Christian and non-religious voters.

Posted by erasmuse at September 21, 2004 01:31 PM

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