Op Ed: Midterm Elections and Muslims
by Dr. Aslam Abdullah
The Midterm elections on November 8, 2022, will undoubtedly change America’s political landscape for a long time. The hostility between the Republicans and Democrats has crossed all political barriers and entered into the realm of religious and racial loyalties. The Republicans stand for the supremacy of a white electorate loyal to evangelical Christianity with a strong commitment to conservative values and the strengthening of the state of Israel. While Democrats, even though with emphasis on a multicultural society, social justice, and human rights, are reluctant to take a bold stand in support of the marginalized communities in the country or abroad.
Muslims, as usual, are keen to play their role in the upcoming elections. Politically active groups have urged community members to register to vote and participate in electoral campaigns. Many Muslims are contesting as representatives of the two political parties and encouraging the community to help them gain political stature.
But do Muslim political groups have a strategy to play their role in the electoral field? For example, do they know the number of Muslim votes in each congressional or local district? Do they know the background of the candidates?
Do they have a specific plan on issues of their concerns? For example, did they carefully analyze battleground districts, or do they have a national or statewide vision of the Muslim role in politics?
The US electoral politics is not complicated to understand. For example, in House elections, first, there are solidly Democratic and Republican districts. Then come races that are likely Democrats and Republicans. Next comes districts that lean towards either party, and last there are toss-up districts for both parties.
The toss-up seats are 33, of which Democrats currently hold 23 and Republicans ten. However, if both parties capture districts categorized as solid, likely, and leaning, Republicans have 211 and Democratics 191. Thus, the Republicans would need only seven of the 33 toss-up district to be in the majority. The Democrats need 27 of 33 toss-ups.
In the Senate, 14 Democrat-controlled and 21 Republican-controlled seats are up for election. Four are toss-ups in Georgia, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
In Governor’s races, four are toss-ups: Kansas, Nevada, Oregon, and Wisconsin.
Practically, there are 33 House, four Senate, and four governor races that will decide who carries US congress and states. Are Muslim groups focusing on these areas, or are they spending their time and resources in areas where the outcome is almost determined?
A cursory look at Muslim groups’ press advisory suggests their focus is not on competitive races. Instead, they are active in areas where either party is well set to win. Will this help Muslims in general? It might help individuals or groups to develop good relations with candidates, but no more than that. The sitting congressmen and women are in House because of their base, knowing that Muslim votes would increase their margin of victory, but if Muslims do not vote for them, their success is inevitable.
A genuine electoral strategy means Muslim political groups focus on toss-ups and competitive races to make their mark in electoral politics. Such an approach does not exist; without it, Muslim groups would always be disadvantaged. Electoral politics is a science that benefits those who understand and act accordingly.