Something I never even thought about – Arab-Americans as a demographic group. 3,500,000 isn’t a tiny number, as these things go. Hope McCain’s lack of courage in the Ali Jawad matter costs him a few swing states, or more.
Not long ago, the John McCain campaign dropped a prominent Arab-American businessman from its Michigan state finance committee because of allegations that the man was an “agent” of Hezbollah. The charges, made by a right-wing blogger, were unsubstantiated, but fears of being associated with Arab terror caused Republican knees to jerk, and cost Ali Jawad his position. All politics, even national politics, is local, and Jawad’s abrupt dismissal may cost McCain many votes among Southeastern Michigan’s large Arab-American community. But more important, Arab-Americans across the country are looking for changes in domestic and international policy that McCain seems unwilling to pledge — and they are concentrated in swing states that he will need to win this fall. Does John McCain have a problem with Arab-American voters?
Recent polls show a tight race between either Democrat and McCain in Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Ohio, all states where Arab-Americans account for an appreciable percentage of the vote. Such polls have limited utility with November so many months away, but that it will be a close election in those key states seems clear. In a tight election, the votes of a well-placed minority — Arab-American votes — can be crucial.
Arab-Americans are a highly diverse group of up to 3.5 million persons, according to Arab American Institute figures. About three-quarters of them are Christian and a quarter Muslim. Eighty percent are U.S. citizens. Many are from families that have been in the U.S. for decades or even a century. They come from all over the Arab world, from Morocco to Egypt and Iraq to Yemen, but the traditional core of the community is Lebanese and Palestinian.