Sunday, September 7, 2008

Can Muslim Vote Swing US Race?

The presidential contest between Barack H. Obama and John S. McCain is now even at 42 percent for elections 2008, according to a new CBS News poll conducted Monday-Wednesday of this week. Twelve percent are undecided according to the poll, and one percent said they
wouldn't vote.

The Race Tied:
The two main presidential candidates remain tied in the polls, in spite of the fact that the polls also show George W. Bush and the Republican party are deeply unpopular in the United States about two months prior to US Elections 2008.

Poll after poll shows that the American people continue to express deep dissatisfaction with Republicans' performance on almost all fronts: Economy, Iraq War, Education, Healthcare, Environment etc. It seems almost certain that the Democrats will have a sweeping victory in Congressional elections and take both the House and the Senate with large majorities.

Why Is It So Close?
So, why is it that the overwhelming advantage Democrats enjoy over Republicans is not reflected in the presidential race? Here are a few possible reasons why:

1. There is genuine and deep concern among many Americans about Barack Obama's lack of experience, and growing unease about some of his statements on national security and foreign policy matters. McCain is far more experienced on handling critical national security issues in an uncertain world.

2. John McCain has a well-established reputation as an independent and a maverick, a reputation he and his campaign have continued to highlight to attract the independent and swing vote. In fact, it can be safely said that McCain is neither a George W. Bush clone, nor a traditional Republican.

3. Republican base has begun to rally around McCain-Palin ticket, closing the enthusiasm gap with Obama. The evangelical voter turn-out, in particular, will be essential for a McCain win.

4. Many white Americans, particularly the traditional blue-collar white Democrats, continue to be uncomfortable with the idea of a Black man in the White House.

In all likelihood, this coming presidential election will be hard-fought and close. It may turn out to be a repeat of the 2000 controversial election of George Bush against Al Gore. So, even small voting blocs in the swing states such as Michigan, Ohio and Florida can make a big difference. It should be recalled that Muslim-American political action committees encouraged support for George W. Bush, and proudly claimed credit for his controversial 2000 win.

Can Muslim-Americans Swing It?
By various estimates, there are about 1.5 million to 2 million American Muslim voters in the United States, with significant concentrations of Muslim vote in Florida and Michigan. If, as the anecdotal evidence suggests, Obama gets the lion's share of the Muslim American vote, then he could win the presidency by a thin margin of Muslim votes.

Is an Obama win good for Muslim-Americans or Pakistani-Americans? To answer this question, let's look at a couple of recent events:

Mazen Asbahi Departure:
What happened recently when the Obama campaign quickly dumped Chicago attorney Mazen Asbahi as director of Muslim Outreach raises serious questions about how genuine Obama's "Change" message is. Asbahi and James Zogby, president of Arab-American Institute, are not radicals by any stretch, and yet they were targeted because of who they are: Muslim-American and Arab-American. The speed with which the Obama campaign caved in to right-wing Islamophobes was really shocking.

Obama's Pakistan Policy:
Senator Barack Obama has been very hawkish in dealing with Pakistan. He has threatened to "bomb Pakistan" and send ground troops into FATA. Recently, without offering any evidence, Mr. Obama accused Pakistan of preparing for war with India. He has shown a total disregard for Pakistan's friendship and assistance in the US war on terror, and ignored the fact that Pakistan has made real sacrifices by losing its soldiers and citizens to terrorists in this battle.

According to Gary Leupp, a history professor at Tufts University, Pakistan has provided more assistance to the United States than any other nation as it pursues its goals in southwest Asia. No country has been more dramatically destabilized as the price of its cooperation.

“But not only does the U.S. political class take this disastrous compliance for granted, it wants to further emphasize Islamabad’s irrelevance by attacking the border area at will,” he writes.

Vote for McCain:
I continue to have and express serious reservations about an Obama presidency for Muslim-Americans, Pakistan-Americans, and Americans of all faiths and ethnicities. Obama has shown a tendency to bend over backwards to satisfy anti-Muslim and anti-Pakistan lobbies, in his bid to distance himself from the "Muslim" label. American Muslim support for Obama seems to be based mainly on their negative experience with the Republican administration under George W. Bush during the last seven years. What Muslims and Pakistanis need to realize is that John S. McCain is not George W. Bush, nor is he a traditional, conservative, right-wing Republican ideologue. Unlike George W. Bush in 2000 and Barack H. Obama now, John S. McCain is far more experienced, well tested, and proven as a leader with a lifetime of real world experience of war and peace.

As a life-long registered Democrat, I intend to vote for John McCain for President, and I urge my readers to do the same. However, I will vote for Democrats running for the Senate and the House seats in my district. This will ensure that we have the presidency in safe, experienced hands and we have a forward-looking agenda on economy, healthcare, environment and education in the US Congress. I believe a divided government in Washington, with John S. McCain in the White House and Democrats running the US Congress, is the best recipe for all Americans, and the world at large.


Anonymous said...

Obama may just be "acting" anti muslim-ish in order to counter his muslim back ground maybe he doesnt actually intend to do anything major concerning Pakistan or Muslims's in general...

Riaz Haq said...

It's a big leap and a huge risk to assume that Obama doesn't mean what he says re Pakistan and Muslims. Muslims took a chance on Bush and saw the consequences. Do we want to repeat that mistake by voting for another novice who has talked about "bombing" Pakistan and vigorously rejected the "Muslim" label as if it was an epithet? I think not.

Riaz Haq said...

John McCain telephoned President Zardari to personally congratulate him. Barack Obama issued a statement congratulating Mr. Zardari.

McCain has been to Pakistan as senator many times and as presidential candidate last year. Obama did not include Pakistan on his recent world tour that took him to Afghanistan.

Does this difference tell you anything?

Riaz Haq said...

I have had a number of emails suggesting that it would be a mistake for Pakistani and Muslim Americans to vote for McCain. The emailers essentially argue that a McCain administration will be a continuation of George Bush's 8 years. They say the necons will dominate it and start new pre-emptive wars. Here are some of my arguments in response:

First, let me say that McCain is neither necon nor a standard-issue Republican.
He's always shown his independence from his party orthodoxy.

Second, if elected, McCain will have to contend with the overwhelming majority of Democrats in both the House and the Senate.
He will not enjoy the kind of carte blanch that Bush had in his first term when he started both Afghan and Iraq wars and engaged in massive violations of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. McCain supported the wars, like most other Dems including Hillary and Biden. But he broke from his party and opposed many of the excesses such as CIA renditions, torture and unauthorized surveillance.

So I do not buy into the argument that McCain will go along with all of the ill-conceived adventures and ideas cooked up by AEI or Lieberman etc.

But, let's say for the sake of argument, that he is a true necon Republican and he does go along with the Israeli lobby.
The Israeli lobby is far more interested in punishing Iran than bombing Pakistan.
Given that McCain will not have unlimited resources (and does recognize limits to US power) and a Democratic Congress to contend with, he is far more likely to choose to go after Iran than Pakistan. If McCain does go after Iran, US will be pre-occupied with it for a long time before thinking of another war. Obama, on the other the hand, has made it clear that he sees Pakistan as the "central front in war on terror". He'd rather talk with Iran and go to war with Pakistan. I believe Pakistan will not be a push-over. Just look at Gen Kayani's warning to the US military today. Pakistan will prove to be a far tougher target for Obama, with the potential for a disaster for both the US forces and Pakistan. Ultimately, if US goes to war with Pakistan, Al-Qaeda and Taliban will be the winners.

If history is any guide, Republican presidents have always been relatively friendly with Pakistan and Democrat president have alway short-changed Pakistan and preferred to cozy up with India in the name of democracy. Pakistan has been heavily sanctioned under successive Democratic administrations for one reason or another. Even if they think they are targeting Pak military or dictators, the Democrats end up badly hurting the average Pakistanis.

From the domestic US policy point of view, Democrats may be a better choice, but having a Democrat dominated House and Senate will take care of that.

Riaz Haq said...

Received another diatribe via email on this post from a Pakistani-American physician in Washington DC area. Here it is:

McCain is a Neo-con. He wanted Lieberman as his VP. Lindsay Graham is a Neo-con.

McCain is a soldier from three generations, and is still angry at his government for the loss in Vietnam. He calls it a political loss.

So he has a personal agenda, which can be easily exploited given the present circumstances.

Remember when he went to Baghdad and roamed the streets saying that all is normal.

Millions of dollars were spent on his security that day.

Michael Ware the CNN correspondent in Baghdad, blasted McCain for his folly, Saying” which world does McCain live in”.

Within a month Michael Ware was covering Rugby in Australia for CNN.

And you say he is not a neo-con.

They have already started to take over FATA, and with Zardari having his first press conference with Karzai, the footprints of Khalilzad are all over the place.

What will Kayani do, throw over Zardari?

Republicans were on Pakistan side because Pakistan was doing the dirty business for CIA , from Bada Boar U2 flights to the Ping Pong diplomacy.

But never came to rescue East Pakistan.

Should we believe the press, when Scooter Libby tells Judith Miller to write an article in New York Times, and Cheney comes on Meet The Press to say that the New York Times is reporting this?

It is not that simple, the game is more the what is on the surface.

Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann can be replaced as anchors at MSNBC, for covering the elections. Hannity , O’Reilly and Blitzer stay intact.

Love politics, it is more than fiction!

Here is my response:

All of the neocon discussion and conspiracy theories aside, please understand that Pakistan faces grave danger from within and outside, regardless of who gets elected in the US. As we exchange emails, the two militaries are facing off in FATA, with each issuing daily warnings to the other. Please read: Is US-Pakistan Military Confrontation Inevitable

I firmly believe, based on the behavior/statements of McCain and Obama re Pakistan, that there is a better chance of avoiding a direct military confront between US and Pakistan under a McCain administration than under Obama.
Just look at what happened this week.

1. In an interview with O'Reilly, Obama accused Pakistan of preparing for war with India, without offering any proof. This was totally uncalled for, unnecessary. He was just mouthing off Indian propaganda without thinking. Probably heard it from an Indian lobbyist.
2. When Zardari was sworn in, McCain called to congratulate him and talked with him. Obama simply releases a statement of greetings.

I share the concerns of many Americans about Obama's lack of readiness to be president. I see him as just another novice, just like George W. Bush was a novice in 2000 when the American Muslim herd helped get him elected.

libertarian said...

I firmly believe, based on the behavior/statements of McCain and Obama re Pakistan, that there is a better chance of avoiding a direct military confront between US and Pakistan under a McCain administration than under Obama.

Riaz are you still rooting for McCain after Charles Gibson's interview with Sarah Palin yesterday? She's an even crazier loon than Bush is. She's scarily religious - in Iraq the US is fighting "God's War"; is willing to declare war on Russia; and has no idea what the doctrine of pre-emption means. Ms New-Age Annie Oakley could be a heartbeat away from being Commander in Chief. Is that what you'd prefer? Obama is no friend of Pakistan, but he's certainly got a better idea of what happens outside Juneau, Alaska. Beware the hockey Mom who likes to shoot: she usually has a chip on her shoulder.

Riaz Haq said...

I support going after Osama and his ilk, wherever they are. So Palin is right about that. But Palin is not the top of the ticket. McCain is.
What Palin said, in answer to questions, has been US policy for a long time.
The difference I see is that McCain has never taken the position that Obama has. Obama is issuing loud, long distance threats against Pakistan without a lot of thought. He has made no attempt to visit/talk with Pakistani leaders. He's made gratuitous accusations against Pakistan, such as the recent one about Pak preparing for war with India.
McCain, on the other hand, believes in engaging diplomatically with Pakistan, as evidenced by his repeated visits to Islamabad and personal telephone calls as recently as this week.
I am afraid the stampede is on among Muslim and Pakistani Americans to vote for Obama. I believe it's a mistake we'll all live to regret.

Anonymous said...

To: Anyone of you thinking that voting for McCain is a solution to Muslim issues.

Please read this article about the new movie ‘Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West’ distributed by Clarion Fund. This DVD is being distributed as newspaper insert to 28 million people this week. The distribution seems to be predominant in swing states.

“Funding is coming from a New York-based group called the Clarion Fund, a shadowy outfit whose financial backers are unclear. … Although supposedly a 501 c(3) non-profit, this week the Clarion Fund’s website featured an article supporting John McCain.” by Erik Ose. Find the article here:

In addition read this as well. "Anti-Muslim Film Produced by Pro-Israel Partisan Boosts McCain":

So please be weary of propaganda vs. real policy change amongst the candidates.

Riaz Haq said...

As far as Israel lobby is concerned, both parties kowtow to them, Democrats more so than Republicans. Here are the facts:

1. Obama's VP proudly claims to be "Zionist" , even though he's not even a Jew. Obama's VP pick gave his views on Shalom TV about
Israel and the US as allies, why he is a Zionist, leniency
for Jonathan Pollard (Israeli spy), and why Israel had nothing to do with the US war on Iraq.

2. Among 100 US senators, there is only one black (Obama) and 10 Jews, all of them Democrats and pro-Israel.

3. There are 2 Jews among 9 Supreme Court judges. Both Jews were appointed by Clinton.

Anonymous said...


I think I might have mis-communicated my thoughts. My comments were directed towards using propaganda to win votes. I am not anti-Jew, we are all god's people at the end of the day, just choose to call him different names. In my opinion extremism or Zionism in any way shape or form is not representative of a religion.

I just feel that propaganda in these elections have swayed our opinions. Words like maverick, bridge to nowhere, more experience etc echo from every major news source. Here is how Obama supporters feel about double standards in the media. Double standards, which I feel your blog entry is based on. Some are highlighted below:

If you're a Democrat and you make a VP pick without fully vetting the individual you're 'reckless.' A Republican who doesn't fully vet is a 'maverick.'

If you spend 3 years as a community organizer growing your organization from a staff of 1 to 13 and your budget from $70,000 to $400,000, then become the first black President of the Harvard Law Review,create a voter registration drive that registers 150,000 new African Amerian voters, spend 12 years as a Constitutional Law professor,then spend nearly 8 more years as a State Senator representing a district with over 750,000 people, becoming chairman of the state Senate's Health and Human Services committee, then spend nearly 4 years in the United States Senate representing a state of nearly 13 million people, sponsoring 131 bills and serving on the Foreign Affairs, Environment and Public Works and Veteran's Affairs committees, you are woefully inexperienced.

If you spend 4 years on the city council and 6 years as the mayor of a town with less than 7,000 people, then spend 20 months as the governor of a state with 650,000 people, you've got the most executive experience of anyone on either ticket, are the Commander in Chief of the Alaska military and are well qualified to lead the nation should you be called upon to do so because your state is the closest state to Russia.

If you are a Democratic male candidate who is popular with millions of people you are an 'arrogant celebrity'. If you are a popular republican female candidate you are 'energizing the base'.

If you are a younger male candidate who thinks for himself and makes his own decisions you are 'presumptuous'. if you are an older male candidate who makes last minute decisions you refuse to explain, you are a 'shoot from the hip' maverick.

If you are a candidate with a Harvard law degree you are 'an elitist 'out of touch' with the real America . if you are a legacy (dad and granddad were admirals) graduate of Annapolis , with multiple disciplinary infractions you are a hero.

If you manage a multi-million dollar nationwide campaign, you are an 'empty suit'.If you are a part time mayor of a town of 7000 people, you are an 'experienced executive'.

If you go to a south side Chicago church, your beliefs are 'extremist'. If you believe in creationism and don't believe global warming is man made, you are 'strongly principled'.

Some below are unrelated to our discussion but are some of the propaganda tricks used by McCain Campaign:

If you're a conservative and you're selected for a job over more qualified candidates you're a 'game changer.'

Black teen pregnancies? A 'crisis' in black America. White teen pregnancies? A 'blessed event.'

If you teach abstinence only in sex education, you get teen parents. If you teach responsible age appropriate sex education, including the proper use of birth control, you are eroding the fiber of society.

Riaz Haq said...

Both parties spend tens of millions of dollars on high-priced consultants and spin doctors to convince voters to their point of view. So far, Obama is way ahead in spending to cover up his very thin resume. In the words of Ralph Nader, Obama is an "overcautious captive of his handlers" who has redefined himself for the national campaign. Please read here

Riaz Haq said...

Ibn Percy argues in his post that Muslim vote helped Obama win the most important swing states of Ohio, Virginia and Florida without which he would not be re-elected. Here's the gist of his argument:

Obama won Virginia by a little over 100k. The estimated Muslim population is greater than 250,000...Numbers in Florida and Ohio are similar.


Results (as of Wed. Nov. 7, 8:33 AM / 97% reporting):

President Barack Obama 1,852,123
Mitt Romney 1,745,397
Difference 106,726
Estimated Muslim Population 250,000+


Results (as of Wed. Nov. 7, 9:01 AM / 97% reporting):
President Barack Obama 4,129,360
Mitt Romney 4,083,321
Difference 46,039
Estimated Muslim Population 400,000+


Results (as of Wed. Nov. 7, 9:23 AM / 90% reporting):
President Barack Obama 2,672,302
Mitt Romney 2,571,539
Difference 100,763
Estimated Muslim Population 150,000+

Riaz Haq said...

Here are a few links that help understand US voters demographics, turn-out stats and impact on election results in 2012 vs 2014: