[This narrowed Clinton’s lead to 4.3 percent, compared to a more than 10-point lead she had last week. (Photo by Raed Rafei)]
Washington: Muslim voters may play a larger role in the U.S. presidential elections next week as the race for the White House shapes into a close race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
The competition, which clearly favored Clinton until this week, tightened after investigators revisited her email issue and media reports claimed that they discovered thousands of new emails that were not reported before, Dawn newspaper reported.
A summary of the opinion surveys released on Sunday showed that the revived email scandal narrowed Clinton’s double-digit lead to single digits. The RCP poll average gave Clinton 47.6 percent chances of winning the election against Trump’s 43.3.
This narrowed Clinton’s lead to 4.3 percent, compared to a more than 10-point lead she had last week. Both candidates, however, still have negative favorability ratings: minus 7.4 for Clinton and minus 21.2 for Trump.
This makes the race so tight that every vote counts, even those of Muslims.
There were 3.3 million Muslims in the United States in 2015, which is about 1 percent of the country’s population, according to the Washington-based Pew Research Centre. Compare this with 17pc Latinos and 13pc blacks and it shows why in previous elections nobody talked about winning over or losing Muslim votes.
And it also shows why both Democrats and Republicans are reaching out to Muslim voters this year, particularly in the urban areas of key swing states where Muslims do have a noticeable presence.
Their near-total rejection of Donald Trump discourages Republicans from contacting Muslims but as the race tightened, they started contacting Muslim media outlets, including Dawn, with messages emphasizing Trump’s business contacts with the Muslim world.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), an umbrella organization with offices across the country, released a survey report this week, showing that 72pc of those surveyed intend to vote for Clinton, while just four percent pledged to vote for Trump.
Three in five Muslims also said they believe the Democratic Party was friendly toward them while 37pc said it was neutral. By contrast, less than one in 10 felt the same way about the Republican Party, though 31pc said the party was neutral.
The CAIR report also claimed that Muslims were fired up this election cycle as 86pc of registered Muslim voters plan to cast ballots. US media surveys of predominantly Muslim neighborhoods also confirm this finding as most outlets reported overwhelmingly pro-Democratic sentiments among the residents.
The CAIR report acknowledges that Muslims are only one percent of the total U.S. population but said that when they are clubbed with South Asians, Middle Easterners, and other non-Latino immigrants, “they form a Democrat-leaning mass.” US media reports warn that in some places, even a few thousand votes can swing the results either way.
Winning these votes is also important because US presidents are not chosen by popular vote, but through an Electoral College system that elevates the importance of several competitive states, such as Florida, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
The Electoral College consists of 538 electors, distributed among states according to their representation in Congress.
A majority of 270 electoral votes is required to elect the president, and that’s why it is also important to win states, not just an overall majority.
Muslim voters are concentrated in areas, which can swing a state either way. In Florida, Clinton leads polls by less than three percent; in Ohio, her lead is narrower than two points.
CAIR survey shows that 85pc Muslims blame Trump for fanning Islamophobia and this is enough for them to vote for his rival.