Palestine not at Arab-American forefront

Israel-Palestinian tensions hardly registered as a concern among Arab-American voters in a pre-election poll.

Asked an open-ended question about the two top issues facing the country ahead of the presidential elections, respondents named “Jobs/Economy” first and “War in Iraq/Peace” second. Just 1 percent mentioned Palestine.

Asked separately what role “Middle East policy” would play in their decision, less than a third of respondents said that disagreement on the issue with the candidate they otherwise prefer would change their vote.

The nationwide phone poll, published Sept. 18 and carried out in the second week of September by Zogby International for the Arab-American Institute, showed the continuing shift in Arab-American allegiances toward Democrats. The party breakdown among the 501 respondents this month was 46 percent to 20 percent in favor of Democrats, as opposed to 40 percent to 38 percent in 2000.

Democratic presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) was strongly favored when pitted solely against U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), at 54 percent to 33 percent. However, Obama lost traction when independents Bob Barr and Ralph Nader were factored in, besting McCain 46 percent to 32 percent. Nader is an Arab American and advocates increased pressure on Israel to come to a peace agreement.

Arab-American voters figure prominently in five swing states: Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida and Virginia.

The poll has a margin of error of 4.5 percentage points.

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