Arab Americans await Michigan with hope and trepidation

Arab Americans await Michigan with hope and trepidation
The state of Michigan, where Arab Americans comprise more than five percent of the vote, has yet to declare its election result.
4 min read
04 November, 2020
President Trump and Joe Biden campaigned heavily in Michigan [Getty]
Arab Americans, who many believe could play a key role in winning key swing states for presidential hopeful Joe Biden, are reacting in shock and awe to the election results so far. 

Americans of Arab heritage are keeping an especially close eye on the battleground state of Michigan, where Arab-Americans comprise more than five percent of the vote. Michigan has yet to declare its result. 

Biden holds a narrow lead in Michigan for the first time, AP's latest running vote tally shows, with votes now being counted in Wayne County, the most populous county in Michigan.

When Trump was narrowly in the lead earlier today, one social media user commented: "Trump taking the lead in michigan?????? these arab americans in detroit really failed us."

Abed Ayoub, who has been monitoring the situation in Detroit, told The New Arab that "if there was a choice to be either of the two at this stage, I'd rather be Biden", implying that odds are looking good for the Democrat contender.

Ayoub witnessed what he described as "voter suppression" in Wayne Country.

"About 60 Republican challengers showed up and began challenging every ballot coming in, slowing down the counting of the ballots. We had to get volunteers out there. Now, a lot of people are out there," he tweeted.

"There are still a lot of votes to count, but we should know by this afternoon on Michigan."

The Arab American Institute's Executive Director Maya Berry told The New Arab last week that Arab Americans have the ability to be the margin of victory in certain areas.

Berry pointed specifically to Michigan, where four-years-ago Trump's margin of victory was less than 11,000 votes.

Read more: Everything you wanted to know about Arab-American voting intentions

"Arab Americans comprise more than five percent of the vote in that state. So do we have the ability to in certain areas literally be the margin of victory? We do."

Reacting to reports on Tuesday that the Michigan city of Dearborn had "short but steady lines everywhere", Berry tweeted: "Looking good #YallaVote."

More detailed polling will reveal exactly how Arab Americans voted this election. A national exit poll shared by the BBC shows that 58 percent of the ethnicity 'Other' voted for Democratic nominee Biden.

Forty percent of this category - which includes Native Americans and Arab Americans, voted for President Trump.

Results from the city of Dearborn, Michigan's eighth largest city and home to a large Arab population, will give further indication as to how Arab Americans voted.

Journalist Ali Harb heard from Arab American voters in Dearborn that the "turnout has been amazing".

Muslim-American activist Linda Sarsour, who was touring polling locations in Dearborn on Tuesday, tweeted on Wednesday: "There's a path to victory. Ballots are still being counted. Drink water. Eat. Love on the kids."

A nationwide poll of 805 Arab-American, conducted by the Arab American Institute last month found that Biden was leading Republican opponent Trump as the preferred candidate among Arab-American voters.

A staggering 59 percent said they are casting their ballots for Biden, while only 35 percent believed they would vote for Republican candidate President Trump.

Morning Consult shared data on voters who cast their ballot early. Fifty-one percent of early voters of other races or ethnicities - such as Asian Americans, Native Americans and Arab Americans - were most likely to mail in their ballot.

The use of mail in ballots has been especially common this eleciton year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Analysts predict that as more mail in votes are counted, Biden's lead in certain states could become more pronounced.

Trump has railed for months against mail-in ballots, charging without evidence that they could be fraudulent, as some 100 million Americans voted ahead of Election Day amid the coronavirus health crisis.

Meanwhile, Muslim Congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib secured a second term in Congress on Tuesday, in a big win for the Democrats so-called "The Squad".

Palestinian-American Tlaib and Somali-American Omar were the first Muslim women elected to Congress in 2018. 

Other states also saw Muslim and Arab candidates win important seats. 

"We did it! I ran to make the #AmericanDream a reality for Everyone. I am a proud #Muslim, #PalestinianAmerican, & #firstgeneration American. And I am proud to be able to represent my communities & the people of #hd41 in the #Colorado state legislature! Now, let's get to work," Iman Jodeh tweeted.

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