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How Did Arab American Voters Influence the US Election?

posted on: Dec 4, 2020

How Did Arab American Voters Influence the US Election?

America’s 2020 presidential election race was widely reported around the world. Heavily contested by both sides, its purpose was eminently clear: to decide between two very different futures for the country and many different groups of voters were extremely influential.

Certain demographics were key in deciding how the vote would go, with a number of minority communities using their voices – and their votes – to express opinions. Among them was America’s Arab demographic, made up of around 3.5 million individuals.  

We take a look at how they voted.

A key demographic

America’s Arab population is not insubstantial, consisting of around 3.5 million voters. Many of these individuals hail from countries like Lebanon and Syria, while Yemenis, Palestinians, and Iraqi Americans also represent sizeable portions of the community.  

The majority of this population is located in Detroit, Michigan, but there are also large Arab American diasporas in California, Florida, Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Virginia.    

For those betting on politics with Betfair and similar outlets, it quickly became clear that there was no obvious winner, meaning Arab American voters in Michigan, a key swing state, were going to be influential in deciding the outcome of the entire election.   

Even now, however, when the result has been decided, the two factions remain at loggerheads, with a number of bookmakers offering odds on whether Trump will attend Biden’s inauguration ceremony or not.

Having our say in swing states

According to statistics from the 2016 presidential race, 91 percent of Arab Americans held voting intentions, and this number has only grown since, with more political participation within these communities than ever before.    

This, coupled with the concentration of Arab Americans in two key swing states, means that we as a demographic proved influential in deciding the outcome of this year’s election. That’s not to say that our preference as a community was clear-cut – indeed, each individual naturally has their own leanings.However, the number of Arab Americans in both Michigan and Minnesota meant that our votes counted, with local populations of 200,000 and 100,000 respectively. With the majority of those polled leaning toward Joe Biden, it seems our choices may well have influenced the overall outcome.

The key issues on the agenda for Arab American voters

Politics will always come down to personal preference, so trying to generalize regarding what a certain demographic does and does not want is difficult. However, there were a few key issues that were of importance to Arab American voters as a whole in 2020.  

Many of those polled stated that they had an interest in foreign policy issues, which is understandable given political maneuverings abroad and their impact on our ancestral homelands.

However, according to a 2016 poll, the biggest issue for many Arab Americans was the economy, with neither candidate necessarily being stronger than the other in this regard.

One area that likely did sway the vote was the candidates’ approaches to immigration, climate change, and healthcare. According to one survey, the majority of the community held progressive views in these areas, which perhaps explains the leaning toward Joe Biden.

How did America’s Arab community vote?

While it’s believed that the majority of Arab Americans threw their support behind the Democrat party, it would be reductive to say that the entire community had a single shared view on the election and its outcome.

Rather, America’s Arabs are a highly diverse demographic, and one that cannot accurately be viewed as a monolithic voting block. While a greater majority arguably identify as Democrats according to a 2016 poll, there are also many who do not.    

In the end, then, it very much comes down not to the specific community or diaspora one belongs to, but to individual views, principles, and beliefs.

Check out Arab America’s blog!