Will Muslim Voters Be a Decisive Factor in the Election?

By Shani Saxon Oct 15, 2020

Muslim Americans may be poised to have a major impact on the upcoming presidential election.

“There are an estimated 3.45 million Muslims in the US—only about one percent of the country’s total population—but their concentrations in key swing and battleground states, such as Michigan, Florida, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, could make their vote especially impactful,” Al Jazeera reports. 

Mohamed Gula, national organizing director of the Muslim American advocacy group Emgage, tells Al Jazeera that Michigan particularly is a swing state to watch in November. The state has 270,000 registered Muslim voters, and Hillary Clinton lost the state to Trump in 2016 by slightly more than 10,000 votes. “When it comes down to the value of the Muslim vote, we could easily swing the election,” Gula told the news outlet. 

Gula added that the biggest issues for Muslim Americans include health care, education and criminal-justice reform. “Obviously, we will hear foreign policy issues being centered,” Gula told Al Jazeera, “but a lot of the issues that we hear today, in regards to what has really impacted the Muslim community are some of the same issues that average Americans also are impacted by.”

Yet, some concerns are specific to Muslim communities and the current climate. 

Reports Al Jazeera:

Shortly after taking office in 2017, Trump, a Republican, issued an executive order banning nationals from several Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S.–fulfilling a campaign promise and sending shockwaves across Muslim communities in the US and abroad.

…Trump further alienated Muslims in a series of disparaging comments and tweets blasting “Radical Islamic terrorism” and calling countries on the Muslim ban list “dangerous”. More recently, Trump did not denounce white supremacist groups and instead told one right-wing group, the Proud Boys, who are active throughout Michigan: “Stand back and stand by.”

The Center for American Progress released a report in September detailing how the Trump administration has harmed faith communities. The report states that Trump and members of his administration have promoted Islamophobic content on multiple occasions. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, for example, once said, “The threat to America is from people who deeply believe that Islam is the way and the light and the only answer.” And on November 29, 2017, Trump retweeted three anti-Islamic videos posted by far-right British politician Jayda Fransen. 

Recent polling shows that the “overwhelming majority of Muslim voters support the Democratic [P]arty,” according to Al Jazeera. A recent survey by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Muslim civil rights and advocacy group, found that 71 percent of Muslim Americans plan to vote for Biden.

“The Muslim vote is part of our strategy to win,” Farooq Mitha, the Biden campaign’s senior adviser for Muslim American engagement, told Al Jazeera. He said Biden intends “to rescind the Muslim travel ban on ‘day one’ of his administration and tackle hate crimes committed against them,” Al Jazeera reports. 

While talking to Al Jazeera, Mitha added, “Over the last seven months, we have done well over 150 events across Muslim communities and we understand that Muslims can play a pivotal role in battleground states – the traditional ones that we know of, like Michigan, Pennsylvania, Florida and Wisconsin—but now we see even states like Georgia, Texas, Ohio, that could be in play.”