Despite rhetoric, Trump backed by some Arab-American Muslims

Donald Trump’s support among Arab-American Muslims in this country is low, but not as low as you might think.

Despite controversial comments like Trump's call last year for "a total and complete shutdown" of Muslims entering the United States, 12% of Arab-American Muslims said they'd vote for the GOP nominee, according to a recent Zogby Analytics survey.  Sixty-seven percent said they'd vote for Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Trump’s support was higher among Arab-American Catholics (20% for him and 63% for Clinton) and Protestants and other Christians (48% for him and 42% for Clinton), according to the survey of 502 Arab Americans, scheduled for release Tuesday.

In addition to his call to ban Muslims from entering the country -- Trump later clarified that he'd focus on people from "terrorist countries" – the GOP presidential nominee famously feuded with the Muslim family of a soldier who died in Iraq.

All of which, it seems reasonable to assume, would push Trump's support among Arab-American Muslims close to zero.

"(But) there are people who are culturally Republican and simply cannot bring themselves to vote for a Democrat,” said Jim Zogby, co-founder and president of the Arab American Institute, which commissioned the poll. (His nephew Jonathan is CEO of Zogby Analytics.)

Jim Zogby said the bigger surprise, given sectarian conflict in the Middle East, is that the Trump-Clinton divide among Arab-American Catholics is roughly the same as it is among Arab-American Muslims.

“You might expect that a candidate who is anti-Muslim might generate some support among Christians,” Zogby said. “That turned out not to be the case.”

Overall, 60% of likely Arab-American voters said they back Clinton. They most often cited their support for Clinton's domestic policies and their opposition to Trump. The 26% who said they’re for Trump tended to cite their opposition to Clinton and party affiliation. Jobs and the economy were the top concerns among those surveyed.

The poll found that a majority of Arab Americans identify with the Democratic Party, the highest percentage since the 2008 presidential election. The survey was conducted Oct. 4-12 and has a margin of error of +/-4.5 percentage points.

The most recent American Community Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau estimated the Arab-American population at close to 2 million, though the Arab American Institute says it’s much higher, at 3.7 million. Among those surveyed, 91% said they're likely to vote on Nov. 8.

Copyright 2016 KING


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