ISLAM-OPED: POLL SHOWS MUSLIM VOTERS UNDECIDED ABOUT WHITE HOUSE PICK
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Poll Shows Muslim Voters Undecided About White House Pick
By Ibrahim Hooper
Word Count: 595
[Ibrahim Hooper is strategic communications director for the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil liberties group. He may be contacted at email@example.com and a photo is available here.]
Many religious or ethnic minority groups are considered to be in one political camp or the other. But a recent survey of American Muslim voters shows they are largely undecided about their choice for president in the November elections.
SEE: American Muslim Voters and the 2008 Election
The results of that national survey, commissioned by the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), also show a family-oriented, highly-educated and diverse group of voters who condemn terrorism and believe anti-Americanism in the Muslim world is a serious problem.
When contacted late last year by an independent polling firm, a random sample of 1,000 Muslim voters said they are:
* Young: More than three-fourths (78 percent) of respondents said they are between the ages of 30 and 54.
* Highly Educated: A majority (65 percent) said they have a bachelor’s degree or higher.
* Middle Class: Almost half of respondents (43 percent) said they have a household income of $50,000 or higher.
* Family Oriented: More than three-fourths of (77 percent) said they are married.
* Religiously Diverse: More than half (52 percent) of respondents said they attend a mosque at least once a month, but than one-fifth
(21 percent) said they seldom or never attend a mosque. While 46 percent of the respondents said they consider themselves “Sunni,” 38 percent said they view themselves as “just Muslims.” Ten percent said they are “Shia,” while two percent said they are “Sufi,” a more mystical interpretation of the faith.
* Involved in Civic Life: The vast majority of Muslim respondents (87 percent) said they regularly go to the polls on Election Day and almost half (45 percent) said they volunteer for an institution serving the public.
*Democratic or Independent: Forty-nine percent of respondents said they consider themselves Democrats and 36 percent said they are politically independent. Only 8 percent of respondents said they are Republicans. When asked about their preferred presidential candidate, almost half of respondents (45 percent) said they “don’t know or haven’t decided.”
When asked their views on a number of domestic and international issues, the vast majority of Muslim respondents (86 percent) said attacks on civilians are “never justified.” Those who said they were “often justified” (2 percent) were less that the statistical margin of error (3 percent) for the survey.
On international issues, American Muslim voters also said:
* American Muslim leaders should support peace and reconciliation between the warring factions in Iraq. (80 percent)
* Anti-Americanism in the Muslim world is a serious problem and anti-Muslim prejudice is a threat to American Muslims. (76 percent)
* Brokering a just resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would improve America’s reputation in the Muslim world. (75 percent)
* Simulated drowning (water-boarding) is an unacceptable interrogation method for terror suspects. (74 percent)
When asked which issues will have the most influence on their voting decision, education was the top pick (89 percent) followed by civil rights (86 percent), health care policy (85 percent) and the economy (85 percent).
These results defy stereotypes of American Muslims as a monolithic group. One interesting finding of the survey shows that the most devout Muslim voters are also those who are more likely to believe that Islam and modernity are compatible.
Almost 80 percent of the Muslim voters polled said they would vote in this year’s presidential primaries. With the prospect of close elections nationwide, no candidate can afford to ignore this potential bloc of swing voters.
The results of CAIR’s survey should give a heads-up to candidates of any political party that there is a group of voters willing to listen to all those who address their concerns.