When Muslims Used To Overwhelmingly Support Republicans
“The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam. That’s not what Islam is all about,”
– President George W. Bush a week after 9/11
What the hell happened? You will never confuse me for a supporter of George W. Bush, but he was spot on there.
There have been Muslims in the United States since our founding, and their right to practice their faith, as well as all faiths, has been enshrined since 1786, with the passage of the Virginia Act for Establishing Religious Freedom. This act became the basis for the First Amendment protections of freedom of religion. Thomas Jefferson, the law’s principal author, wrote that it was “meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew, the Gentile, the Christian and the Mahometan (Muslim), the Hindoo and Infidel of every denomination.” Seriously, what’s the problem?
The widespread belief amongst conservatives is that President Obama is secretly a Muslim concealing his true beliefs for nefarious reasons, most likely to impose sharia law on the nation. The last public poll on this belief showed that 86 percent of Republicans are warm to it, with 54 percent believing that Obama is a Muslim and 32 percent saying they are unsure. Only 14 percent of Republicans correctly describe Obama’s religion as Christian. In other words, the belief that Obama is a Muslim is an entrenched “fact” on the right, much like the belief that global warming is a hoax or Planned Parenthood is a for-profit company that makes its money selling fetal parts.
Another Lost Constituency
After 9/11, American Muslims largely switched sides to the Democratic party, noting that Republican policies had made their lives more difficult than they were before the attacks. A 2011 Pew survey found that Muslim support had flipped in just over 10 years after 78 percent of Muslims backed Republicans in the 2000 election. By 2011, 70 percent of Muslims identified as Democrats, and 11 percent leaned toward Republicans. An informal exit poll conducted by the Council on American-Islamic Relations in 2012 determined that 85 percent of Muslim voters in the election broke for President Barack Obama over his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney.
Muslims represented 0.4 percent of the population in 2007, according to a Pew survey, and rose to 0.9 percent in 2014. The Christian population dropped from 78.4 percent to 70.6 percent during that time. Muslim voters may be a small portion of the American population, they are concentrated in some of the states that could play a decisive role in 2016, including Florida, Ohio, Virginia and Pennsylvania.
Muslims In America
In a 2012 poll by the Arab American Institute, about 60% of Republicans had negative views of Muslim Americans. Muslim Americans actually polled less favorably than Americans of every other faith, among respondents of all political persuasions. Muslims have replaced Hispanics as the focus of verbal attacks on the US campaign trail.
Conversely, Gallup released a poll in June which showed that 60% of American adults would support a Muslim for president, but that number fell to 44 per cent when the people polled were protestants. In contrast, 73 per cent of respondents said they would back an evangelical Christian and 74 per cent said they would support a gay candidate, an increase of almost 20 points from eight years ago.
Today, the GOP is basically a regional party whose members are mostly older, whiter, angrier men refusing to accept that the country is becoming younger and more diverse. Their dreams of living in a homogeneous society, controlled entirely by them, were indeed crushed on Tuesday, November 4, 2008. There are certain factions in the GOP who are determined to “take back Ah-murika and return her to the real Ah-murikans”, but somehow, they don’t mean American Indians. Go figure.