Polling suggests that this November most Arab and Jewish-Americans will vote blue.
52% of Arab voters are already prepared to support Obama. In contrast, a Romney presidency seems less than desirable. Only 28% of Arabs support him thus far, reported the Arab-American Institute.
Jewish-Americans are even more staunchly Democratic.
In 2008 Obama received 78% of the Jewish vote, statistics show. A recent study from J-Street, a moderate pro-Israeli lobby when compared to AIPAC, analyzed Jewish voting patterns from 1972 to the present. With 1980 as the only exception, “Democratic presidential candidates [have] received between 64 and 80 percent of the Jewish vote,” said Jim Gerstein, J-Street lobbyist.
They predict 70% of eligible Jews will vote for Obama’s second term.
Conventional wisdom does not explain similarities in Arab and Jewish voting.
Both Samer Araabi for the Arab-American Institute and Gerstein agree that their constituencies are concerned with a lot more than the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Gerstein rejected the notion that Jewish-American voting is determined by Israeli affairs.
“This is actually a fallacy,” he said. He pointed out that 62% of Jews believe the economy is the top priority. Only 7% consider Israel one.
Araabi found that Arabs voiced the same concerns. This November their focus will be also on the “economy” and “jobs,” not the Palestinians.
Still, this November, Arabs and Jews are going blue for different reasons. The Arab-American Institute reported that Arab Republicans are at an all-time low: 22%. Araabi has a theory why.
“[Socially conservative candidates] tend to hang onto the Islamophobic right,” he said.
What some perceive as post-9/11 Islamophobia has left many Arabs concerned with America’s willingness to protect their civil liberties, said Araabi. He criticized multiple programs established in the name of security, namely the Patriot Act, the NYPD’s profiling program, and Guantanamo Bay.
On the other hand, Democrats have earned stable Jewish support for the past 40 years because of shared views on social policies. A 2010 Gallup poll revealed that Jews are by far the most liberal religious group in the nation.
“The biggest issues for me [are] abortion, gay marriage, followed by education, followed by health care,” said Dan Abromowitz, a senior at Princeton University.
Obama may have won both Jews and Arabs this election, but this is a bittersweet success.
In swing states like Florida and Pennsylvania, Jews make up only 4% of the population. In Ohio, only 2%.
Arab-Americans face a similar dilemma.
Arabs only make up 1% of the U.S. population. Like Jews they’ve also settled in important electorates — Michigan, Ohio, Florida, Virginia – but are outnumbered by more sizeable populations.
As result, both constituencies may have little impact at the ballot box.
“Do I think the election will be decided on by the Arab-American vote?” Araabi asked. “No I don’t.”