Bush won the election. Something like 80 to 90% of Muslims say they voted for Kerry (Zogby, CAIR). Bush won by the biggest margins since 1988. No president, since Bush Senior in 1988, has been able to garner 51% of the popular vote. Yet, Bush Junior has managed to pull it off. So did the Muslim vote matter? In what states did it matter?
In 2000, Muslims claimed credit for Governor George W. Bush’s victory over Senator Albert Gore. Muslims said, “We had 90,000 Muslims in Florida.” Fine. But what happened this time? Where did the 8 million Muslim votes go? Did 8 million Muslims really vote? If so, why did Bush win again? (Muslims endorsed Kerry this time)
Earlier this month, the American Muslim Taskforce, decided to begrudgingly endorse Senator John F. Kerry. Why begrudgingly? Because they really didn’t want to endorse him. They truly saw no difference between Bush and Kerry, but because so many American Muslims were voting for Kerry, they decided to endorse Kerry with qualifications. They made it clear that they are merely endorsing him as a protest and dissatisfaction with Bush.
So why not endorse Kerry fully? Why the qualifications? Why the hesitancy? Why hold back? Why did this endorsement come on October 21st, about 10 days before the election? Wheras, in 2000, the Muslim endorsement of Bush came as early as September 28th. What was going on? Could this “qualified endorsement” have turned some voters off? Did Muslims just forget about it? Did they stay home?
As Muslims, we are taught that if you are going to do a job, that you should give it your best effort. You should give it 110%. None of this half effort business. So is a “qualified endorsement” a weak endorsement? Could that have lead to some Muslims staying home, or voting their pocketbook and sticking with Bush?
States that have strong Muslim populations failed to help Kerry. In Florida, Bush won by a margin of about 400,000 votes in 2004. Could 90,000 Muslim votes have helped? Probably not. Whereas in 2000, Bush only won by 520 votes. But that’s not the entire story.
Voter turnout in Florida increased. About 1 million more voters voted in Florida in 2004 than in 2000. Dowd and Rove, Bush’s campaign number crunchers, knew that if they could increase voter turnout in rural America by about 4 million nationally, they could win. About a million came from Florida. Whereas 90,000 Florida Muslims is pretty substantial in 2000, when the final results are 2,912,790 to 2,912,253, in 2004 they are not. Hence, in Florida, if the turnout is low, and the election is very close, that favors Muslim supported candidates. If a candidate is leading by more than 1% point, then forget about the Muslim vote.
What about Michigan? A state where the Muslim population is pretty substantial. Estimates have the Michigan Muslim population anywhere between 600,000 and 800,000. In 2000, Bush received 1,947,100 votes while Gore received 2,141,700, a difference of 194,000. The difference is surmountable. A state with a voting block of 600-800,000 could easily swing this election. But the Muslim endorsed candidate lost. Bush lost by close to 194,000 in 2000. So what happened? Even if only 100,000 Muslims changed their vote or voted for Bush rather than Gore, Bush should have won, right?
Admittedly, many Michigan Muslims stated that they voted for Nader, about 35% say they did. Another 14% say they voted for Gore. But the rest should have been able to put Bush over the top of Gore. No luck. Strange, isn’t it?
What about Michigan in 2004? Kerry receives 2,471,000 while Bush receives 2,306,000. The difference again is 165,000. But this time about 688,000 more voted in Michigan. Are these the Muslim votes? No. Bush received a higher percentage of the vote in 2004 than he received in 2000. In 2000, Gore received 51%, Bush 47%, Nader 2%, while in 2004 Kerry received 51%, Bush 48%, Nader 1%. So as the overall turnout increased, Bush made more gains than Kerry, but not enough. This leads one to conclude that the Muslim voting population in Michigan is overstated and practically irrelevant.
The fact that Bush made gains in Michigan, with Muslims endorsing his opponent, is quite telling. Muslims in Michigan either don’t vote, don’t have the numbers, vote for third party candidates, or are as splintered as the rest of the country. Probably a combination of all three.
So is the Muslim vote totally useless? Does it matter anymore? Should Muslims even bother? Wait, Ohio to the rescue.
A close look at Ohio reveals that in Ohio, Muslims did play an important role. Ohio Governor Bob Taft boasts that Ohio’s Muslim population is 150,000. But is this enough to carry the day?
In 2000 Bush received 2,294,167 while Gore received 2,117,741; a margin of 176,400 back in 2000. However, in 2004, Bush receives 2,796,140 while Kerry receives 2,659,600; a margin of only 136,000. Although about 1,000,000 more voted in Ohio in 2004, the margin of victory was well within the reach of the Muslim vote. So even if only 100,000 Muslims voted, that is a 200,000 vote swing in favor of the victor. If the Muslim voting population stays constant, lower turnouts favor Muslim supported candidates. However, if the Muslim voter turnout waxes and wanes, it’s hard to predict.
So were Muslims responsible for closing the Ohio gap? Maybe. In 2000, when Muslims voted for Bush the margin of victory was for Bush was by 0.03998 % of the total votes cast. Whereas in 2004, Bush’s margin of victory was by 0.02492 % of the total votes cast. Keep in mind, about 1 million extra votes were cast. Yet amazingly, the margin of victory as a percentage of the total votes cast has shrunk. What does that mean?
This can be interpreted in many different ways. The first explanation is that the Bush team was able to reach out to more voters and bring them out to vote. But thusly, Kerry and the Democrats have also managed to bring out more voters. In fact, because Bush won by a smaller percentage of the total turnout this year, that means that Kerry was able to turnout extra Democrats in Ohio. So who are those extra Democrats? Could these be the Muslim votes?
While not trying to assume too much, yes, these are the Muslim votes. In Ohio, the population of the Muslim vote, while not able to overcome Bush’s margin, was able to shrink the margin, while voter turnout increased. So, in Ohio, the Muslim vote actually does count.
In no other state is the population of Muslim voters large enough to overcome statewide mood swings and voter voting tendencies. Overall, if you want the Muslim vote to matter, you had better call on Ohio to step it up.
Of course, political organizations recognized the power of the Ohio Muslim voter and held huge phone call campaigns. In some newspapers, as many as 18-20,000 Muslim households in Ohio were called and urged to vote.
These types of numbers, power, clout and effectiveness come with tremendous responsibility. Muslims in Ohio will deliver every single future president of the United States, hence, we must use our power wisely and for the betterment of America.
It can be claimed, without hesitance, that Ohio’s Muslims are really the only Muslims that count in presidential elections. Because Ohio, is the closest race and mimics the nationwide results the closest, and the difference is surmountable, in the future, Muslims need to focus their efforts on Ohio.
Once again, congratulations to the state of Ohio for being on the leading edge of the national political scene.