Thursday, March 18, 2004

The Arab-American vote 

A new Zogby poll confirms what many have speculated about the Arab-American vote. Arab-Americans in four swing states prefer Kerry over Bush 54% to 30%. Unfortunately, when Nader is included he takes an enormous 20%, cutting Kerry's lead to 43-27. Still, this is a huge swing from 2000, when the same sample of voters preferred Bush over Gore 46% to 29%. Over at The Big Picture there's a chart comparing the number of Arab-Americans in key swing states to the margin of victory in the 2000 presidential race.

Zogby says that Arab-Americans tend to vote in higher proportion than the population at large. I couldn't find turnout figures for 2000, but 62% of Arab-Americans turned out to vote in 1996. In the following chart, I've used these figures to estimate how the Arab-American vote will split in 2004:

2000 2004
Arab-Americans Turnout Bush Gore Bush Kerry Total Swing Percentage
Florida 120,000 74,400 34,224 21,576 20,088 31,992 24,552 0.41%
Michigan 235,000 145,700 67,022 42,253 39,339 62,651 48,081 1.14%
Ohio 85,000 52,700 24,242 15,283 14,229 22,661 17,391 0.37%
Pennsylvania 75,000 46,500 21,390 13,485 12,555 19,995 15,345 0.31%

The second to last column totals the number of net votes gained by the Democrats. In Florida, for example, Bush loses about 14,000 Arab-American votes and Kerry gains about 10,000 for a total swing of 24,552 votes. The last column is the size of this swing as a percentage of the total voter turnout. Since nearly 6 million people voted in Florida in 2000, those 24,552 extra votes represent only about 0.4% of the total votes cast.

Conclusion: While the swings are not huge, they do make a difference. With the kind of support Arab-Americans are now showing for Democrats in the polls, Gore would have won Florida by 24,015 votes, increased his lead over Bush in Michigan to over 6%, and just about come within 3% of Bush in Ohio.
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