Zogby: Arab-Americans Still Back Obama but More Take on Independent Label
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Arab-Americans, who comprise a sizable population in Florida, may not be flocking to the GOP, but they are also stepping back from their wholehearted support of President Obama, pollster James Zogby said, after releasing results of a national poll Thursday.
Democrats, who have confidently carried minority support, hold a 2-1 advantage among Arab-Americans. But 15 percent of the Arab-Americans who voted for Obama in 2008 have yet to declare their support.
Since 2002, the percentage of Arab-Americans in the GOP has dropped from 31 percent to 22 percent, while Arab-Americans who have taken on a no-party affiliation designation has grown over the past decade from 14 percent to 24 percent.
When the Arab-Americans' religion was broken down, those identified as orthodox or protestant gave Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney a 16 percent advantage. Arab-American Muslims gave a 75 percent backing to Obama and 8 percent to Romney.
The breakdowns did not include numbers specific to Florida.
“Arab-Americans looked like they have pretty much made their mind up on who they are voting for,” Zogby said, speaking during a webcast media conference from the Arab-American Institute office in Washington, D.C.
“They have accepted the disappointment that they are not going to hear the things they want to hear, but they’re making their minds up on other issues as well.”
Jobs and economy are primary issues, with those backing the GOP more likely to stress the budget; Arab-Americans who trended with the Democrats put a bigger emphasis on foreign policy.
Still, Democrats gave Obama his lowest marks for his handling of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, when compared to health care, taxes, and civil liberties.
The Democratic Party’s backtracking at the national convention to amend its platform to restore language declaring Jerusalem as the Israeli capital is a minor glitch that little impacted Arab-American views, Zogby said.
“What would have been the change is if the language weren’t there,” Zogby said.
“I think Arab-Americans are used to that. They’re used to platform language that is not going to be pleasing to them. So they will vote in spite of the platform, not because of the platform.”
However, Romney hasn’t instilled confidence that he could do better, as even Republican Arab-Americans expressed the least confidence in his ability to reach into the Arab and Muslim worlds.
“They (Republicans) have given Arab-Americans very little to work with,” Zogby said of the GOP.
“They have to fix this or write the community off.”
He pointed to GOP lawmakers calling for loyalty oaths and the move by U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., that was backed by U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Charlotte, that targeted Muslims in the Obama administration, as measures that have kept the party from attracting Arab-Americans.
Zogby said Arab-Americans who are not Muslim “recoiled” from such actions.
The poll was conducted between Sept. 8 and Sept. 14, of 400 likely voters, with a 5 percent margin of error.
Reach Jim Turner at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (772) 215-9889.