Feeling G.O.P. Peril, Muslims Try to Get Out Vote

Alan Rappeport, New York Times, March 25, 2016

American Muslims are watching in growing horror as Donald J. Trump and Senator Ted Cruz battle for the Republican presidential nomination, outdoing each other with provocative proposals that have included Muslim registries, immigration bans and fleets of police patrolling their neighborhoods.

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Organizations like the Council on American-Islamic Relations, known as CAIR, the Islamic Circle of North America and the U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations are encouraging mosques to turn themselves into voter registration centers before the November election so that Muslims can make their voices heard at the polls. Registration drives are expected to ramp up significantly in June, during Ramadan, when attendance at Islamic centers peaks.

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Muslims tended to lean Republican as recently as 2000, but a backlash after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, along with the Middle East policies of the George W. Bush administration, has led to a gradual shift toward the Democrats. A Pew Research Center survey last year found that 70 percent of American Muslims identify with the Democratic Party, while just 11 percent consider themselves to be Republicans.

Although Muslims make up only about 1 percent of the population in the United States, civil rights groups have set a goal of registering a million new voters. Efforts will be focused on swing states such as Ohio and Florida that have large Muslim populations, potentially giving the small but united voting bloc the power to tilt close elections.

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It is too soon to assess whether such voter registration efforts are succeeding, but CAIR says it is seeing a lot of energy behind the movement. Its polls have shown that about three-fourths of Muslims who are registered to vote planned to do so during the primary election season, and two-thirds of them expected to vote for Democrats.

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