U.S. Muslims Mostly Democrats

U.S. Muslims mostly Democrats

By Julia Duin
October 25, 2006

America's Muslim voters are a young, highly educated and prosperous voting bloc that will overwhelmingly back Democrats in November, according to a survey released yesterday by the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

They are also coming of age in terms of political representation. Next month, Democratic nominee Keith Ellison of Minneapolis is poised to become the first Muslim member of the House of Representatives. He says, if elected, he will take his oath of office with his hand on the Koran instead of the Bible.

“After September 11, neither political party wanted anything to do with Muslims,” said Mohamed Nimer, research director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). “Now they're receptive to Muslim candidates.”

With their large families and socially conservative leanings, Muslims mirror the GOP's demographic profile. Seventy-eight percent of those interviewed were married. Of those respondents, 83 percent had at least one child and 54 percent reported two or three children. Muslims had an average of 4.5 members per family, contrasted with a 2005 Census Bureau figure estimating the number of family members in an average American household at 3.14.

But ideologically, their differences with Republicans are vast. Sixty-six percent favor normalization of relations with Iran, 55 percent are afraid the “war on terror” has morphed into a war on Islam, just 12 percent think the war in Iraq is worthwhile and only 10 percent support the use of the military to spread democracy.

The survey, conducted in August by Genesis Research Associates of Descanso, Calif., polled 1,000 American Muslims; 687 men and 313 women in 42 states. It has a margin of error of 3 percentage points. CAIR said the sex disparity is the result of men being more willing to participate.

The survey showed a voter bloc concentrated in 12 states with the most (20 percent) living in California. Seventy percent of the respondents were born overseas. Of those, 40 percent are from the Middle East; 33 percent from Pakistan, India or Bangladesh; 6 percent from Africa; 5 percent from Iran; and 3 percent from Europe. The rest either refused to name a country or named another part of the globe.

Forty-two percent of those polled said they were Democrats, 17 percent were Republicans and the rest either belonged to another party, no party or refused to answer.

The Democratic National Committee is aware of Muslim interest, a spokeswoman said yesterday, and has hired a part-time Muslim staffer, Hiam Nawas, to focus on soliciting their votes.

Birthplace was a factor on whether the “war on terror” is perceived as a war on Islam. Sixty percent of the foreign-born voters agreed with that statement, compared with 47 percent of those born in this country. Thirty-five percent of American-born Muslims disagreed with that statement.

“If you are born overseas, you'd tend to feel the impact of American policies more strongly because of your overseas experience,” Mr. Nimer said. “Your sense of grievance is stronger.”

When asked their denominational affiliation, 40 percent said they were “just a Muslim,” 36 percent said they were Sunni and 12 percent were Shi'ites. The rest belonged to other branches of Islam.

Muslim voters are younger than the average American. Nearly 80 percent of Muslims are younger than 55, compared with 65 percent of the general public. The survey found 62 percent of the respondents possessing at least a college degree; 16 percent own their own business; 9 percent are engineers; 6 percent are professors or teachers; and 4 percent are doctors or dentists.