It wasn’t front-page news, but John Kerry got some significant backing recently. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) reported that 54 percent of eligible Muslim voters said they would vote for Kerry, while 26 percent favored Nader. The survey results were covered by CNSNews.com, UPI wire service, and newspapers as far away as India. But the major media in the U.S. did not report the results, perhaps because they are potentially embarrassing to Kerry.
Fifty-five percent of these respondents said they voted for President Bush in the 2000 election. So why have they bailed on Bush? Why do they dislike Bush after liberating Afghanistan and Iraq? It would appear that these American Muslims do not appreciate a U.S. foreign policy of freedom and democracy in the Middle East. Speakers at the CAIR event to release the survey included Nader himself, former Iraq Chief of Mission Edward Peck, as well as representatives from the Muslim Public Affairs Council and the Council for the National Interest.
Kari Huss of MSNBC did a fascinating story on anti-Bush sentiment in the Arab-American community. Referring to CAIR’s voter registration campaign, she reported, “To the extent that the get-out-the-Muslim-vote effort succeeds, it will largely benefit the Democrats because it is energized by anger over the Bush administration’s Patriot Act and what is perceived as an anti-Muslim bias behind the Iraq war and Israeli-Palestinian policy.”
In April, pollster John Zogby noted that a survey of Arab-American voters in four critical states?Florida, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania?found that only 30 percent approved of Bush’s job performance. The same figure would vote for Bush for president, with Kerry getting 49 percent of the Arab-American vote.
Writing in the Dallas Morning News, William McKenzie said that his discussions with local Muslims found that, “It doesn’t matter that the president has gone out of his way to say the war against terror is not a fight against Islam. The battle against terrorism feels that way to this group.” He added, “After an hour of listening, it was no surprise to learn very few of these registered voters plan to support the President. The administration could dismiss this as an unscientific group. But their preferences track an April Zogby poll in the four states with the greatest Muslim populations.”
In a pitch for Muslim votes, it is reported that a draft of the Democratic Party platform, to be presented at the party’s convention, calls for the development of a new American strategy for “public diplomacy” in the Arab and Muslim worlds to alleviate distrust of America. Congressional Democrats backing Kerry have released a 90-page document that includes a “Marshall Plan” for the Middle East “to create a middle class and a regional common market,” a $10 billion “global alliance for improving education for Arab children,” and a $200 billion “Renaissance Partnership” for the Arabs in the Middle East. The U.S. would put up $100 billion for this. The prospect of big money being spent abroad could buy some crucial votes for Kerry here in the U.S.