U.S.

Three-Quarters of Muslim Voters Say They’ll Participate in Primaries: CAIR

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Muslim voters polled in six states said they are more likely to vote Democrat than Republican, and Hillary Clinton is their most popular choice. Muslims pray as they take part in a protest against presidential candidate Donald Trump outside of his office in New York City on December 20. Eduardo Munoz/Reuters

Nearly three-quarters of the nation’s Muslim voters intend to participate in primary elections this year and a large majority plan to support the Democratic Party, according to a new survey.

The survey, released by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) on Monday, found that 74 percent of Muslim voters polled said they will be voting in upcoming primary elections, and 67 percent said they will vote for Democratic Party candidates. More than half of respondents said they’d vote for Hillary Clinton and 22 percent back Bernie Sanders. The survey was published hours before the Iowa caucuses.

When compared with the 17.3 percent of eligible American citizens who participated in statewide primaries for both parties in 2012—a record low—CAIR's reported voter intention numbers seem remarkably high.

Despite Donald Trump's plan to ban all Muslims from entering the U.S.—an idea that a quarter of Americans agree with, according to a December poll by NBC News and The Wall Street Journal—seven percent of Muslim voters polled by CAIR said they’d vote for the real estate mogul to be the Republican nominee for president. Ted Cruz was the second-most-favored Republican candidate in the survey, at two percent, and overall less than 15 percent of Muslim voters said they’d vote for Republican Party candidates.

The number of Muslims who plan to vote in this year’s primary elections is higher than in the 2014 midterm elections, and “may be driven at least in part by concern over the rise in Islamophobia nationwide,” Robert McCaw, CAIR’S government affairs manager, said in a statement on Monday. Less than 70 percent of Muslim voters polled in 2014 said they planned to vote in that year's midterm elections, said CAIR.

“Toxic political attacks from the Trump and [Dr. Ben] Carson campaigns are definitely driving interest” from Muslim voters to participate in the primaries, McCaw tells Newsweek by phone. He adds that not all people who say they plan to vote in the primaries will actually do so.

Islamophobia was ranked as the No. 1 issue for the nearly 2,000 Muslim voters polled by CAIR in California, New York, Illinois, Florida, Texas and Virginia, the U.S. states with the highest Muslim populations. The economy and health care also topped Muslims voters’ list of concerns, according to the survey.

CAIR says it could not provide the percentage of Muslim voters who voted in the 2012 primary elections. More than 85 percent of Muslims who voted backed President Barack Obama in 2012, according to a CAIR poll.

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