The Arab-American voting bloc is having an increasing impact on the outcome of U.S. elections and is now shifting Democratic, according to a poll released last week by the Arab American Institute (AAI).
"There's clearly a trend in the Democratic direction and that shows up not only in head to head races, but also in the issues," said Dr. James Zogby, president and CEO of AAI, and brother of pollster John Zogby.
The poll, conducted by Zogby International in October, surveyed 701 Arab-American voters in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida states that have close races in which the Arab-American vote is expected to play a "decisive role."
Just ten years ago, Arab-Americans were virtually split between both parties, according to a Zogby poll taken at the time. In the most recent poll, the split had shifted, with 45 percent of Arab-American respondents identifying themselves as Democrats, and 31 percent as Republicans.
Part of this could stem from the war in Iraq. Seventy-seven percent of those polled in October rated the war as crucial in determining their vote for members of Congress.
"Our numbers track the country, but writ large. We're kind of like canaries in the coal mine on some of these Middle East issues," Zogby told Mother Jones.
Initially more split on their opinion of U.S. involvement in the war in Iraq, the disapproval rate among Arab Americans has risen to over 90 per cent, Zogby said.
"If a Republican standard-bearer were to break dramatically with the Republicans' interests on Middle East issues, there would be a change," said Zogby. "But I don't see that happening."