This week is a holiday week in the U.S., so this week’s blog will be shorter than usual.
On November 8, the U.S. midterm elections were held with both expected and unexpected results. The Republican party captured the House of Representatives (expected) but lost the Senate (unexpected).
First, let’s summarize the outcome. In the 2022 midterm elections, a record-breaking 145 American Muslim candidates ran for office for school boards and city councils on the local level, judges and state representatives on the state level, and Congressional and Senate positions on the federal level. Most people know that Dr. Mehmet Oz lost the P.A. Senate seat to now Senator-to-be Fetterman. However, three Muslim incumbents in the House of Representatives won their reelection bids. In all, 82 Muslim candidates won their elections. All incumbents were reelected. Two years earlier, 71 Muslims were running for office, so this is a quickly growing progression of Muslims entering politics. In Georgia alone, four Muslim Americans were elected to state office.
82 Muslims in elected office is just a foot in the door. To be representative, it needs to increase, and it will probably will. The Pew Research Center projects 3.85 million Muslims will be in the U.S. by 2020. That is about 1.1 percent of the population. Another survey by the U.S. Religion Census shows the number of Muslims who participated in mosque prayer at 4.5 million in 2020. That is about 1.3 percent of the population. On the Federal level, those numbers would be one senator and five members of Congress. We can expect Muslims to achieve that goal and maybe more in the next decade.
Muslims as Democrats
In all the sources I checked, all the Muslim candidates, except one, ran as Democrats. Dr. Oz ran as a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate seat in Pennsylvania. So, why do Muslims identify so heavily with the Democratic Party? Some explanations for Muslims leaning Democrat include the Republican Party’s response to Muslim tragedies and the creation of policies harmful to the Muslim community, such as surveillance programs and religious profiling. A Pew Research Center survey back in 2017 shows that 66 percent of Muslims identify as Democrats. It didn’t matter if the Muslims were born here are immigrated here; two-thirds favored the Democratic Party versus 13 percent for the Republican Party. Some reasons: Muslims overwhelmingly prefer big government and government social safety nets for people down and out; American Muslims are more liberal (as evidenced by high support for homosexuality) than their Asian or Middle eastern cousins; They also see no conflict between democracy or Islam, again in contrast to their Middle Eastern cousins. But that was back in 2017. What about now?
Muslims have a heritage of free market economics. The Prophet was a trader, as were the caliphs that followed him. Republicans also have an edge in business, favoring capitalism over socialistic tendencies. Muslims are risk-averse, as was Mohammad. Speculation was not acceptable. A free-market economy was good, but the profits you earned had to be handled so that the community profited. Thus, Muslims have one foot in the Republican camp and one foot in the Democratic base.
An Unexpected Response
The 2022 midterm elections showed that Muslims shifted towards the right, with 28 percent of Muslim voters voting Republican, a doubling of voters from the 2018 midterms, according to WSJ exit polling. Parts of the Muslim community saw their values align more with the GOP platform, such as parental rights in education and social conservatism. It is also noteworthy that the Islamic religion accepts abortion only in dire circumstances. However, the three Muslim congressmen go along with the Democratic Party’s position on abortion because they must. Recently, a School Board allowed a school library to have a book promoting homosexuality in its inventory. Below is a YouTube video of a Muslim parent confronting a Dearborn School Board member, who is also Muslim, about that book. In a Muslim-dominant country, this would never happen, but in a democracy, the School Board is accountable to the parents, or they will be voted out, as happened in numerous school boards this month.
According to the Associated Press VoteCast, from 2018 to 2020, of all religious groups, the Muslim community had the most apparent shift to the Republican Party. If the Republican Party takes action now, the Muslim community will shift more significantly by the 2024 elections.