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By Lukas Pleva August 20, 2010

Crowd in GOP big tent doesn't include many Muslims

Republicans already have minimal support among the Muslim community, so they better watch what they say about building a new Mosque near Ground Zero, said Tamara Holder, a liberal Fox News Contributor in an August 18, 2010, segment of Sean Hannity.

"I just like to make the point that we can argue all day whether this is a moral issue or religious issue or whatever. But the bigger issue here on this political show is that the Republicans have 2 percent of the Muslim vote, 2 percent. Most Muslims, like 77 percent, are Americanized. They've been here for 20 years. Not all Muslims are radical," Holder said.

It's a little known secret that we're suckers for arguments involving statistics, so we decided to look into Holder's claim that Republicans have 2 percent of the Muslim vote.

We began by reading American Muslim Voters and the 2008 Election, a report put out in January 2008 by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a non-profit group that works to promote a positive image of Islam and Muslims in America. The study results come from a random sample telephone survey of 1000 American Muslim registered voters. The group found that 49 percent of Muslim Americans consider themselves Democrats, 36 percent independent, and 8 percent Republicans.

The survey, taken before the 2008 election, also asked participants about the presidential candidates. Nearly 45 percent said that they "don't know" or "haven't decided," but among those who declared a preference, Democrats took the lead. "Republican Ron Paul, who is regarded by many Muslims as fair-minded, was mentioned by 2 percent, more than any other Republican hopeful," the report stated.

Those numbers are consistent with at least one post-election analysis. On November 7, 2008, the American Muslim Taskforce on Civil Rights and Elections, an umbrella group for various Muslim advocacy groups, released the results of phone interviews with 637 registered Muslim American voters. The organization found that among those who voted, 88.9 percent backed President Barack Obama; only 2.2 percent voted for Republican John McCain.

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Then there is the Muslim West Facts Project -- a partnership between Gallup and the Coexist Foundation -- which released Muslim Americans: A National Portrait in early 2009. According to the report, 49 percent of Muslims identified themselves as Democrat; 37 percent said that they were independent and 8 percent considered themselves Republican. Gallup researchers did not analyze what percent of Muslim Americans voted for President Obama, but they found that from January through the end of October 2008, eleven percent said that they would vote for McCain and his running mate Sarah Palin. Eric Nielsen, who heads Gallup media relations, told us during a phone interview that the 11 percent is a "rough proxy" of how many Muslim Americans actually voted for the Republican duo.

Finally, the Pew Research Center published Muslim Americans in May 2007. The survey found that 11 percent of Muslim Americans identified as Republicans, 63 percent as Democrats, and 26 percent as either independent or having no leaning. During the 2004 presidential election, 14 percent voted for Bush and 71 percent voted for Kerry, according to the study.

So, to recap, Holder claimed that Republicans only have 2 percent of the Muslim vote. We found that roughly 8 to 11 percent of Muslims consider themselves Republicans. Muslims voted overwhelmingly for John Kerry during the 2004 election, and at least one post-election analysis shows that McCain only received 2 percent of the vote in the 2008 election. Gallup does not have data on how many Muslims voted for McCain, but we're told that it may be roughly 11 percent, a bit higher than what Holder claimed. Still, that's quite low compared to the support that Democrats have, so Holder's underlying point that Republicans lack significant Muslim backing is valid. We rate this Mostly True.

Our Sources

Sean Hannity, Building an Islamic Center on Ground Zero, Aug. 18, 2010 (accessed via Lexis Nexis)

E-mail interview, Tamara Holder, Fox News Contributor, Aug. 19, 2010

Phone interview, Eric Nielsen, Head of Gallup media relations, Aug. 19, 2010

Council on American-Islamic Relations, American Muslim Voters and the 2008 Election, Jan. 30, 2010

Pew Research Center, Muslim Americans, May 22, 2007

Chicago Tribune, Muslims drawn to Obama, by Manya A. Brachear, Nov. 7, 2008

Gallup Muslim West Facts Project, Muslim Americans: A National Portrait, accessed Aug. 19, 2010

Gallup Muslim West Facts Projects, Obama Approval High Among Muslims, Jews, and Catholics, May 4, 2009

Council on American-Islamic Relations, A Post Election Survey Report, Nov. 7, 2008

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Crowd in GOP big tent doesn't include many Muslims

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