Latest Presidential Polls: Arab Americans Choose Obama, And Could Help Him in Swing States

With the election just days away, it’s important to remember that whoever gets elected president will impact not just domestic affairs but international affairs as well. 

As I stated before Obama’s first term was welcomed rather optimistically around the world. The reality of his first term has been rather disappointing on a global level. One demographic that actively supported him during his first campaign is Arab-American voters; research indicates they still do, but not nearly as overwhelmingly as they did before. This highlights the growing international disappointment of Obama’s first four years in office.

The continued support, however, also indicates that the alternative, Romney, is even less desirable. Perhaps this is impacted by the very real possibility that tensions with Iran will boil over to all-out-war within the next four years. The Center for Research on Globalization expects there to be unilateral aggression on the part of Israel after the U.S. election, which would force Washington’s hand into supporting Israel in a strike against Iran. 

The blind support for Israel continues to be an unifying force for anti-Americanism in the region, and it is unlikely to change in the next four years, regardless of who is elected. Hassan Nafaa believes that Obama, despite his disappointment, is still the preferred candidate for many because he is viewed as being more rational in his use of force. 

This disappointment over regional relations is impacting support of a traditional democratic ally: the Arab American vote. While it is expected that Obama will still receive the majority of the Arab American vote, there are 16%, or 100,000 Arab Americans across five key swing states who remain undecided. The undecided voters highlight the disappointment and disillusionment that resulted from Obama’s first term in office. The surprise, however, is that Romney’s comments about Israel’s economic success seem to play so little into the decision. This perhaps reinforces the expectation that both candidates are uninspiring global leaders and there are other factors influencing the vote decision as hinted by Fawaz Turki, such as Romney’s perceived benefit to the domestic economy. 

There is little doubt that the Middle East will continue to dominate the foreign policy arena in the coming four years. Despite disappointment with Obama’s first term, the region would still prefer an Obama presidency in the years to come. Perhaps there is silent optimism that without a reelection to consider there will be significant changes in policy, as hinted at during Obama’s 2009 Cairo speech.  

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Kathleen O'Neill

Kathleen O'Neill is interested in migration and refugee issues as well as international politics, with a particular interest in the Middle East. She has a double BA in economics and international studies with a concentration in Middle East studies from Washington College in Maryland. She has an MA in Middle East studies and a graduate diploma in migration and refugee studies from the American University in Cairo, Egypt. Kathleen has co-authored two short articles published by the Middle East Institute in Washington, DC and London Middle East Institute at SOAS. She has lived in the MENA region for more than seven years.

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