In eight months, Americans will vote for president. All available polling and recent primary results indicate that the country is looking at a rematch of the 2020 election with Joe Biden and Donald Trump. Millions of primary voters have yet to cast their ballot, and given concerns with the president’s age and ability and the current lawfare entangling the former president, anything can happen between now and November 5. But, as a thought experiment, let’s briefly examine one of the current trends playing out in the presidential election: the rebellion of Muslim voters.
Tuesday night, more than 2.6 million Michiganders voted for their choice to represent the top of the ticket in the upcoming general election. While former president Donald Trump bested former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley in the GOP primary, 68% to 27%, most of the big news centers on Biden’s performance. Although the president won statewide (81%) against Rep. Dean Philips (D-Minn.), who earned 2%, more than 100,000 voters — 13% of the Democratic primary vote in Michigan — selected “uncommitted” in a protest vote against Biden’s handling of the war in Israel.
Just a little over 1% of the 2020 Michigan Democrat primary vote went to “uncommitted.” Similarly, four years earlier, in 2016, “uncommitted” again picked up around 1% of the vote. This year, after Muslim leaders vowed to deny their vote to Biden over their support for Palestine, combined with Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) urging voters in her district to select “uncommitted,” the uncommitted vote swelled to 13%. Suffice it to say a rebellion is brewing inside the ranks of the Democratic Party.
In Dearborn, Michigan, home to one of, if not the largest, Muslim-American populations in the United States, “uncommitted” beat Biden 56% to 40%. You can be assured the alarm bells are ringing at the Democratic National Committee and the Biden campaign. With an election months away, they should be focusing on persuading swing voters; instead, they’re facing a significant protest vote among a demographic that was key to their 2020 result.
In 2020, 1.1 million Muslim Americans voted. According to a report following the 2020 election, 71% of Muslims voters turned out to vote in 2020. Of those who showed up to vote, exit polling shows Biden won 64% to Trump’s 35%. Though a small part of the overall American population and electorate, the Muslim vote can have a big impact on election results. A piece in Politico from 2020 put it well: “The Muslim American community is relatively small in number, but its participation was targeted enough to make a difference in 2020. In Georgia, where President Joe Biden won by almost 12,000 votes, more than 61,000 Muslim voters came to the polls. … In Pennsylvania, which Biden carried by nearly 81,000 votes, about 125,000 Muslim voters turned out.”
Should Biden fail to win back support from the Muslim voters who helped put him over the edge in places like Michigan, Georgia, and Pennsylvania, what could the damage look like on election day? Let’s take a look: there are an estimated 4.4 million Muslim citizens in America. If we focus on the most competitive states that could decide the upcoming 2024 election (Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Nevada, and Wisconsin), we have an estimated population of about 700,000 Muslims. If, as the data suggests, 78% of this group is eligible and registered to vote, and of that population 71% actually show up to vote, we have an active voting population of a little more than 388,000 Muslim voters across these six key battleground states.
Remember, Biden’s 2020 level of support from Muslim voters was 64%, so if we project that level of support forward into 2024, we can get a sense of how much Muslim vote Biden would be missing on November 5. The math shows Biden is looking at a hole of more than 248,000 voters in the states that can sway the electoral college. That’s a devastating blow to his reelection chances when you consider his margin across these same six states in 2020 was a cumulative 312,362 votes.
Much attention is paid to Michigan because of the prevalence of the Muslim community in Dearborn and Tlaib’s prominence as a member of the Squad, but Biden’s 2020 result exceeded the reach of the Muslim vote in Michigan. So theoretically, he could still win the state in November without a single Muslim vote. But that is not the case in Arizona, Georgia, and Wisconsin, three states that also have significant Muslim populations and collectively can deny an electoral college win to Biden.
Biden’s 2020 margin across these three states was 42,919, and the projected 2024 Biden vote from Muslims in these states is 107,079. For every Muslim voter in Arizona, Georgia, and Wisconsin that doesn’t show up to vote (or votes for another candidate), Biden’s path to 270 is imperiled.
The reality is Muslim voters will likely not completely abandon Biden in 2024. But if Tuesday’s results in Michigan are any indication, Biden will struggle to get the same level of support from them in 2024. The fact remains that assembling winning coalitions is difficult. Elections are won on the margins. Small movements in key voting groups in key regions are all that is needed for big wins.
Biden also has more problems than a protest vote from his base. His approval ratings are upside down by 15 points, according to the RealClearPolitics average. He is facing additional fractures in his base from black and Hispanic voters, and he also loses in head-to-head polling against his potential challenger (Trump) when it comes to who will better handle things like inflation, jobs, securing the border, taking care of crime, and more.
However, in our era of mail-in voting, it’s more important than ever to secure the ballot box. Deceased voters must be removed from the voter rolls, noncitizens must not be allowed to vote, dropboxes should be secured 24/7 (if we must use them), voting machines need to operate smoothly and accurately (if we must use them), and so on.
The 2022 midterms looked like a slam dunk for Republicans, but the red wave only materialized in Florida. Elections nowadays are less head-to-head contests and more about the mechanics of contacting voters and collecting ballots. Mass mail-in voting lowers the threshold for participation. Democratic candidates in 2022 were able to overcome a less than enthusiastic base. and polling that showed the public generally opposed their record, but they still retained control of many governorships, the Senate, and only barely lost the House.
If the GOP is to compete against Biden’s political machine in 2024, it should not count on the “uncommitted” voter staying home or voting third party.
Matt Carpenter is the director of FRC Action.
EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2024 Family Research Council.
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