All American Muslim

November 28, 2011 by staff 

All American Muslim, As the 2012 presidential caucus election draws near, a sizeable segment of the Muslim vote remains a mystery and up for grabs.

“If I was going to vote, I would vote for Ron Paul,” said Sehiha Kraina, who lives with her husband and young daughter in Iowa City. She has lived here for 12 years.

But Kraina, 27, a European-Muslim from Kosovo, isn’t sure if she will vote in the 2012 presidential elections – and she’s not alone.

About 26 percent of Muslim-Americans don’t see themselves as part of any party, said Karam Dana, an associate at the Center for American Political Studies and the Department of Government at Harvard University. Dana co-led a survey of Muslims with Matt A. Barreto, an associate professor at the University of Washington.

Although their population in the U.S. may be small, the voting power could become significant in a close election.

More religious Muslims are less likely to select a political party. Barreto, in a 2009 study with Dino Bozonelos of the University of California at Riverside, found that Muslims who practice their religion everyday were over 30 percent more likely to cite no political party.

Most Muslims have remained Democratic leaning since President Barack Obama took office, but recent events, particularly his opposition to the Palestinians effort to become a member of the United Nations, contribute to their political ambivalence. Moreover, a rise in anti-Muslim sentiment in the United States has fueled wariness.

Kraina cites several reasons for favoring Ron Paul. One key point is his position on U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East, which is to remove American troops from the region. But, ultimately she remains on the fence on whether to vote

A Pew Research Center survey in 2011 found that 19 percent of Muslim voters were Independent or had no party preference, and 70 percent affiliated with the Democratic Party or were Democratic leaning.

Brian Gaines, a political science professor specializing in voting behavior and elections at the University of Illinois, says Muslims will usually vote Democratic. He notes that generally the Muslim population in modern U.S. politics doesn’t follow suit with other religions’ voting patterns.

“Muslims are unique in that the more religious they are, the more Democratic they tend to vote,” said Gaines. He finds it unlikely that Obama would lose votes from this population to a Republican candidate.

However, Gaines says it is hard to draw conclusive data from surveys that do not over-sample the Muslim population.

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