Arab-Americans still strongly support President Obama, but not by the same wide margins as they did four years ago, according to a new poll by the Arab American Institute. But before Republicans celebrate they should know that he still leads Mitt Romney by nearly a two-to-one margin.
President Obama’s support has dropped from 67 percent four years ago to 52 percent today, while only 28 percent say they plan to vote for Romney. Comparing a mid-September survey with November election results is a case of apples and oranges, especially with such a large undecided element in this sampling.
Arab-American Democrats give Obama highest marks for his handling of the economy and taxes, and lowest marks for his handling of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, according to the survey.
While Romney and the Republicans are accusing Obama of being more pro-Palestinian than pro-Israel, Arab Americans tend to agree with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas that Obama is too pro-Israel.
Just over 4 out of 5 said the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is important to them, but they told pollsters their number one issue is jobs and the economy, followed by foreign policy. AAI estimates the Arab American population at 3.5 million, including one quarter who are Muslims.
AAI president James Zogby, a Democratic activist, said Arab Americans are “upset” with Obama over the reinsertion in the Democratic platform of language recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
He expressed disappointment in the outreach efforts by both parties to ethnic communities such as his. He estimated that there are about 100,000 undecided Arab-American voters in five swing states. The swing states with the largest Arab-American population are Michigan, Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
Muslim Arab-American support for Obama is much stronger than among their Christian brethren, according to Zogby. Muslims prefer the president 75-8 over Romney, who does best among Christian Orthodox and Protestant Arabs, edging Obama 40 percent to 34 percent.
Arab-Americans have been trending away from the GOP in recent years, many declaring themselves independents, AAI reported.
The poll surveyed 400 Arab-Americans between September 8 and September 14, and was conducted by JZ Analytics, which is headed by James Zogby’s nephew Jonathan Zogby.