Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 5 December 2020

US ELECTIONS

At least 800,000 Muslim Americans voted in US presidential election, says civic engagement group

2020 produced historic Muslim-American voter turnout efforts

Emgage is one of several Muslim civic organisations in the US promoting the Million Muslim Votes campaign. 
Emgage is one of several Muslim civic organisations in the US promoting the Million Muslim Votes campaign. 

At least 800,000 Muslim Americans took part in the 2020 presidential election, according to estimates by activists who campaigned to raise the community's participation past the one million mark.

The number of Muslims who cast ballots in the November 3 vote is expected to rise as more results are tabulated, according to Wa’el Alzayat, chief executive of Emgage Action, a prominent Muslim-American advocacy group that took part in the campaign.

“Our analysis of early returns in 12 important states indicates that at least 800,000 Muslims voted,” Mr Alzayat said in an email message to Emgage supporters.

According to Emgage, 81,000 Muslims voted early or via absentee ballots in the battleground state of Michigan, which Democratic candidate Joe Biden won with 50.6 per cent of the total vote, a margin of approximately 146,000 votes.

Michigan was critical to Mr Biden, a state President Donald Trump won by just 11,000 votes over Hillary Clinton in 2016.

The Million Muslim Votes campaign is organising an unprecedented voter turnout campaign to increase civic engagement in the 2020 US presidential election. Emgage
The Million Muslim Votes campaign is organising an unprecedented voter turnout campaign to increase civic engagement in the 2020 US presidential election. Emgage

In Pennsylvania, according to Emgage, approximately 57,000 Muslim Americans voted early or via absentee ballots.

Although it is not clear how their vote broke down in terms of support for Mr Biden or Mr Trump, Pennsylvania is another state that proved crucial for Mr Biden, as he emerged victorious and picked up 20 electoral votes that Mr Trump secured in 2016.

According to Pew Research data, 3.5 million Muslim Americans live in the US, including 2.5 million adults.

Although there has recently been a record number of American Muslims running for political office at local, state and national level, there was plenty of room for improvement in terms of voter turnout, Mr Alzayat told The National before the election.

“Despite those gains, the Muslim vote turnout is still lower than the general population numbers, but we do feel like the gap is closing and we hope to narrow it in the upcoming elections,” he said.

In his post-election email to Emgage supporters, Mr Alzayat revealed the scale of the effort to mobilise a record Muslim turnout.

“Our countrywide effort to mobilise Muslim voters, with the Million Muslim Votes campaign, played an important role in mobilising a community,” he wrote.

“Emgage and partner organisations made over 1.8 million calls and sent over 3.6 million text messages in support of the largest Muslim get-out-the-vote effort to date.”

Mr Biden addressed a Million Muslim Votes summit in July where he vowed to end the Trump administration’s Muslim ban and promised to have voices from the Muslim-American community in his administration.

Although the Muslim-American vote has trended Democratic in recent years, it is far from being a monolith.

A 2018 survey by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding found that 13 per cent of American Muslim voters approved of Mr Trump's performance as president.

That support, according to the survey, was strongly linked to increased partisan polarisation throughout the US.

“Muslims who identify as Republican are significantly more likely than either Democrats or self-reported independents to support the president’s job performance,” according to a summary of the findings.

In terms of issues that might have helped increase Muslim voter turnout, there are numerous factors at play.

According to a 2016 ISPU report, the economy was the most important issue for Muslim voters, followed by civil rights, education, immigration, national security and health care.

In terms of the ideological spectrum, 43 per cent of those surveyed by ISPU identified as moderate, whereas 32 per cent identified as somewhat liberal and 17 per cent as somewhat conservative.

Updated: November 12, 2020 08:45 PM

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