Little-known history

Politics | George W. Bush would not have won Florida in 2000 without majority Muslim support
by Marvin Olasky
Posted on Friday, April 14, 2017, at 11:40 pm

My friend and fellow editor Mindy Belz, who knows more about the Middle East and our war against radical Islam than just about anyone else, reacted this way yesterday when I mentioned on our internal WORLD discussion board that George W. Bush would not have won Florida without majority Muslim support: “What?!? I’ve never heard that, Marvin.”

An exclamation point and two question marks can get me moving, so I’ve put together a summary for Mindy and the many others surprised and shocked by this historical footnote.

Without Muslim support, George W. Bush probably would never have made it to the White House. According to a Center for American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) poll, 72 percent of Muslim-American voters went for Bush in 2000. He apparently received 46,000 Muslim votes in Florida and won the state by a 537-vote margin.

The American Muslim Alliance’s exit poll of 350 Florida Muslims found 91 percent voted for Bush. The Tampa Bay Islamic Center estimated that 88 percent of Florida Muslims voted for Bush.

“Muslim voters clearly followed the lead of Islamic political groups in voting for George W. Bush,” said CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad. “This signals that a Muslim voting bloc must be taken into consideration in future elections.”

Some claims should be taken with a pound of sand. Muslim groups right after the election wanted to take credit for Bush’s victory and win a place at the White House table. While Bush apparently received a majority among Muslims in Dearborn, Mich., a Detroit News poll showed Al Gore winning most Muslim votes statewide. Most Muslims are not Arabs and not all Arabs are Muslim. Some pollsters are demographically imprecise.

Nevertheless, it’s clear that Bush generally did well among Muslims, and particularly in decisive Florida. Why? Here’s what the American Muslim Political Coordinating Council Political Action Committee (AMPCC-PAC) announced on Oct. 23, 2000, when it endorsed Bush:

“Two key factors in selecting Bush were his outreach to the Muslim community during his campaign as well as his opposition to the law of secret evidence.

“‘Governor Bush took the initiative to meet with local and national representatives of the Muslim community. He also promised to address Muslim concerns on domestic and foreign policy issues,’ said AMPCC-PAC head Agha Saeed.

“During the second presidential debate earlier this month, Bush challenged the use of secret evidence which is used in US Immigration and Naturalization Service deportation hearings. It has been used disproportionately against Muslims in America.

“Input from community groups also played a role in the selection of Bush as the candidate for endorsement. Straw polls, surveys and town hall meetings conducted by the AMPCC indicated that Bush already has the support of a large cross-section of Muslims.”

In a 2012 Washington Post column, Rany Jazayerli, a second-generation American of Syrian ancestry (and fully Americanized as his co-founding of Baseball Prospectus indicates), noted:

“Muslim organizations almost unanimously endorsed George W. Bush. … In the 2000 election, approximately 70 percent of Muslims in America voted for Bush; among non-African-American Muslims, the ratio was over 80 percent. …

“Muslim support for the Republican Party did not waver in the face of its gradual Christianization. On the contrary, Muslims saw common ground with Christians on most social issues. While the topic of abortion is not nearly as cut-and-dried for Muslims as it is for many Christians, the Muslim community certainly agreed with the goal of limiting them as much as possible—and more to the point, in limiting unwanted pregnancies in the first place by stigmatizing casual sexual encounters. Muslims shared with their Christian neighbors their belief in the sanctity of the nuclear family, and their belief that a household headed by a married mother and father was the best household in which to raise children.”

Al Gore’s pro-abortion stance and his support for Israel, and particularly his selection of Joseph Lieberman to be his running mate, apparently influenced some voters. But GOP success among Muslims didn’t last past 9/11 and George W. Bush’s reaction to it, even though he tried hard to avoid alienating them by repeatedly claiming that Islam is “a religion of peace.” In 2004, Bush’s share of the Muslim vote was apparently about 4 percent.

By the way, Mindy’s terrific book, They Say We Are Infidels, is now out in paperback with a new chapter update.

Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. His latest book is Reforming Journalism. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.

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  • NH
    Posted: Sat, 04/15/2017 08:51 am

    "Most Muslims are not Arabs and all Arabs are not Muslim."

    I think this is a mistake, is something like "Most Muslims are not Arabs and not all Arabs are Muslim" meant instead?

  • Web Editor
    Posted: Sat, 04/15/2017 09:36 am

    Thank you for pointing that out. It has been corrected.