Several of those swing states — most notably Virginia, Michigan, Florida, Pennsylvania, Colorado, and Ohio — have enough Muslim voters to turn a tight race, experts say.
According to a poll of 500 Muslim American voters released Wednesday (Oct. 24) by the Council of American-Islamic Relations in Washington, 68 percent of Muslims said they would vote for President Obama, while 25 percent were undecided. The poll, which had a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points, also found that 91 percent of Muslims intend to vote.
While Muslim Americans continue to place high importance on civil rights and foreign policy, the CAIR survey shows that they, like other Americans, have ranked the economy and jobs as their top concern, followed by education and health care.
“We came to this country for the opportunities it offered us, and we need to be focused on domestic issues that impact all Americans because now this is our home,” said New Yorker Zeba Iqbal, an Obama supporter and former executive director of the Council for the Advancement of Muslim Professionals.
But many Muslim Americans are disappointed with Obama on a range of issues, including his support for the Patriot Act, a counterterrorism law that that they say unfairly targets Muslims. Many Muslims are also upset about FBI sting operations against Muslims that civil rights activists say amount to entrapment.
In addition, many Muslim Americans were disappointed that Obama did not confront the New York City Police Department for allegedly spying on Muslim Americans in and around New York.
Overseas, Obama has stepped up drone attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan that have killed dozens of civilians; Palestinians still have no independent state; and some Muslim critics say Washington still goes too easy on oppressive regimes in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and other countries.
Most Muslim Americans believed the Iraq war was reckless, and have advocated for an American exit from Afghanistan. Many also believed America was right to to stay out of Iran’s short-lived Green Revolution, where people are suspicious of the American government.
But in Syria, where strongman Bashar al-Assad’s forces have killed thousands in massacres and bombardments, more than two-thirds of Muslim Americans want the U.S. to be more supportive of anti-Assad rebels, according to the CAIR survey.
“The people on the ground are asking for it. People are dying there,” said Rashad Al-Dabbagh, a spokesman for the Syrian American Council, an advocacy group supporting the Syrian rebels. He said they want America to provide the rebels with heavy arms like anti-aircraft and anti-tank guns, and to fund rebel councils — two ideas that Romney floated during the third presidential debate.