Updated Dec 2, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Muslim Americans in swing states launch anti-Biden campaign

Thousands of Pro-Palestinian demonstrators hold a huge Palestinian flag as they take over New York City Streets after gathering at Washington Square Park on Black Friday in New York, United States on November 24, 2023.

Thousands of Pro-Palestinian demonstrators hold a huge Palestinian flag during a demonstration in New York last month. Photo: Selcuk Acar/Anadolu via Getty Images

Muslim Americans in several swing states are scheduled to gather in Michigan on Saturday to start a campaign they're calling #AbandonBiden, a reflection of their outrage over President Biden's handling of the Israel-Hamas war.

Why it matters: Arab American and Muslim American anger could hurt Biden's re-election prospects in most of the 2024 swing states he won in 2020, as those groups have been heavily Democratic.

Zoom in: Muslim American leaders from Michigan, Minnesota, Arizona, Wisconsin, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, and Pennsylvania are expected to meet in Dearborn, Mich., to start the new campaign.

  • "This #AbandonBiden 2024 conference is set against the backdrop of the upcoming 2024 presidential election and the decision to withdraw support for President Biden due to his unwillingness to call for a ceasefire and protect innocents in Palestine and Israel," the group said in a statement.
  • "Leaders from swing states will work together to guarantee Biden's loss in the 2024 election."

The campaign primarily will focus on social media for now, organizer Jaylani Hussein of Minneapolis tells Axios.

  • Hussein said Muslim leaders acknowledge that not supporting Biden could result in the re-election of former President Trump, who is disliked by many Muslim Americans because of his racist retweets about them and his efforts to ban Muslims from migrating to the U.S.
  • "We recognize that, in the next four years, our decision may cause us to have an even more difficult time. But we believe that this will give us a chance to recalibrate, and the Democrats will have to consider whether they want our votes or not."

The Biden campaign declined to comment.

  • A senior White House official told Axios this week that the White House recently met with Arab American leaders to hear their thoughts, and those conversations are ongoing.

The intrigue: Those swing states all have notable pockets of Arab American and Muslim American populations.

Yes, but: There aren't reliable statistics on how many are registered voters — but even tiny shifts of support in any of these super-tight states that Biden won in 2020 could make a difference.

  • The Muslim American population — which can include Arab Americans, Black Americans and Asian Americans — is about 3.45 million, according to the Pew Research Center.
  • The Census doesn't collect data on religious affiliation in its demographic surveys or its once-a-decade count.

Zoom out: An Axios review of 2020 results in these crucial states shows that if even a sliver of the Arab American and Muslim American vote were to stay home or defect to Republicans, Biden could be in a deep hole.

  • In Michigan, for example, Biden won in 2020 by 154,000 votes. Census estimates put the state's Arab American population around at least 278,00o.
  • Biden won Arizona by 10,500 votes. The Arab American population in the Grand Canyon State is estimated to be 60,000.
  • Biden took Georgia by 11,800 votes. The Arab American population there is at least 57,000.

The Arab American Institute estimates from its own polling that about 59% of Arab American voters supported Biden in 2020, but says its polling indicates that percentage has dropped dramatically in recent weeks.

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