Muslim Americans, many of whom gave President Bush enthusiastic support in his first election campaign in 2000, have largely fled the Republican Party and could help Democrats win key states this November.
In surveys over the past six years, Muslims have cited administration policies in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq as reasons why GOP candidates no longer appeal to them.
The surveys by the polling firm Zogby International and the Pew Research Center show how dramatic the shift has been: In the 2000 election, 42 percent of Muslim-American voters surveyed said they had voted for Bush, 31 percent for former Vice President Al Gore and 12 percent for Green Party candidate Ralph Nader. In 2004, just 14 percent voted for Bush, while 71 percent chose Democratic Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts.
“We can intuit that the Republican Party has lost a lot of goodwill among Muslims,” said pollster John Zogby.
This year, the bulk of Muslim support is likely to go to Democratic Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, said Mukit Hossain, a political consultant to the Muslim American Society, which has taken a leading role in mobilizing Muslim Americans to vote and be active in political life.
Obama, whose Kenyan relatives include Muslims and who lived in majority-Muslim Indonesia as a child, has courted Muslim voters, saying he would be more understanding of their concerns because of his background.
Meanwhile, the GOP’s presumptive nominee, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, angered Muslims late last year when he said in an interview he would not be comfortable with a Muslim president, though he later clarified that statement. (MORE)