Muslims for Obama, Muslims for McCain: The Muslim Vote in the US Presidential Race

October 21, 2008

Author: Umar Lee

Source: Islam Online

One can hardly walk into a masjid in America these days without seeing information on how to register to vote or meeting someone eager to help you to register. Perhaps it is due to the sense of disfranchisement many Muslims in America have felt over the last seven years or maybe it is due to the fact that American Muslims are a maturing community and along with numerical growth and age comes political sophistication.

"It is time for Muslims to step up to the plate in 2008 and take their souls to the polls," Imam Mahdi Bray, the Executive Director of the Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation (MAS), has said repeatedly throughout the year.

Towards that effort, the "MAS Voting is Power" program has launched Muslim voter registration drives all throughout the nation putting thousands of new Muslims on the rolls in swing-states such as Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, and Michigan. MAS VIP is joined in this effort by an assortment of Muslim organizations all pledged to bring out a record Muslim voter turnout in 2008. This effort hoped to build upon the 2004 Muslim vote (which exit polls show going solidly for the Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry) and the famous 2000 bloc-vote which many Muslims feel tipped the scales towards George W. Bush.

More Active than Ever

At a town hall forum earlier this year for Muslim voters in Philadelphia, Imam Bray stated "this is not going to be like 2000 ... a handful of Muslims on top are not going to select and give an endorsement in the name of the entire Muslim community ... we are looking for an endorsement from the grassroots." Already, out of the eight million Muslim in the US, 86 percent are registered to vote while 70 percent are expected to actively vote according to Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Nihad Awad.

A popular consensus has arisen in the Muslim community that a majority of American Muslims support the candidacy of the Democratic Senator Barack Obama. Obama bumper stickers can be seen at masjid parking lots across the country with a high level of frequency along with a high level of enthusiasm for his candidacy in a number of Muslim Student Association chapters and countless Muslim volunteers for his campaign. However, Muslim support in this election is not one-sided, as there is sure to be a significant percentage of American Muslims supporting the candidacy of the Republican Sen. John McCain.