Muslim political advocacy group Emgage hopes one of its recent voter turnout studies sends a crystal clear message to politicians, the Huffington Post reported Monday. According to the group's study, Muslim voter turnout has increased in four major swing states since 2014, and that carries a lot of weight ahead of the 2020 elections.
The research noted that registered Muslim voters in four key swing states — Florida, Ohio, Virginia, and Michigan — went up collectively by 25 percentage points between the 2014 to the 2018 midterm elections. In American election cycles, local support for both Democratic and Republican parties is ever-shifting in swing states, and can help determine the overall outcome of an election.
Emgage's research showed 53% of registered Muslim voters in Florida came out to vote in the 2018 midterm elections. Per HuffPost, that's a 22 percentage point spike since 2014. In Ohio, 48% of registered Muslim voters cast their ballots in 2018, which was a 29 percentage point increase since 2014. In Michigan, 50% did the same in 2018, which was a 19 percentage point rise. In Virginia, 60% went to voting booths, marking a 31% increase compared to 2014. Collectively, that's 130,000 votes in 2014 to more than 285,000 in 2018, according to HuffPost.
According to Emgage's CEO Wa'el Alzayat, Muslim participation in American elections is unmistakably increasing. "This is a community that has not engaged politically in the past and has been taken for granted by both political parties," Alzayat told HuffPost. "We’re seeing now an undeniable trend, and the trend is moving up. Muslims are voting. They’re going to be significant politically."
For research, the advocacy group told HuffPost that it used an algorithm and matched names frequently associated with Muslims with voter data it got from a progressive data trust called Catalist. The group acknowledged that there may have been some potential for error. For example, the algorithm may have logged names viewed to be linked to Islam or it might have noted names of people who don't identify as Muslims.
Still, Emgage told the outlet that the algorithm had been fine-tuned over the years in order to make sure its representation of Muslim voter participation was accurate and updated.
This isn't the first time that research on American Muslim voters has been published. In 2017, The Atlantic highlighted research by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding on Muslim voters in the country. Compared to other religious groups in the country, the research noted "American Muslims are the youngest, with more than one-third younger than 30 years of age." These voters leaned on the liberal side of the political spectrum, according to the study.
Candidates who plan to run for public office should pay attention to Muslim voters as they share the same concerns like other Americans, Alzayat said to HuffPost. As research from the Council on American-Islamic Relations and Pew Research Center has shown, Muslim voters frequently support accessible health care, affordable education, and effective solutions for gun violence particularly targeting schools, among other things.
"There is not a history of engaging the Muslim community in political campaigns," Alzayat told HuffPost. "It’s changing. They are now recognizing the value of the electorate."