by Jim Lobe
(IPS) WASHINGTON -- Minority communities on Tuesday continued their trend of backing the Democratic candidate in the presidential vote, but re-elected George W Bush recorded several sizeable gains among many groups, according to the latest exit polls.
Still, Jewish and Arab-American voters -- often seen at odds over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict -- found themselves in strong agreement over their preference for Democratic Senator John Kerry.
Nearly two out of every three Arab Americans and three out of every four Jewish Americans marked their ballots in favor of Kerry, according to the surveys, which found that only African Americans, of all ethnic minorities, were more solidly behind the Massachusetts senator.
Asian and Latino Americans also went for Kerry over Bush but by lesser majorities, according to the polls, which noted, however, the president did significantly better among Latinos than had been anticipated.
Nearly 60 percent of white Americans chose Bush, effectively giving him the three-million-vote margin that decided the election, according to the polls, which found that, of this group, more than three out of four self-identified fundamentalist Christians -- nearly 80 percent of who cast their ballots for the president -- were the most supportive sub-group.
African Americans, who constituted about 12 percent of the total vote this year and turned out in record numbers in critical swing states, particularly Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio, voted by nearly a nine-to-one ratio for Kerry.
According to independent polls and Republican estimates, 11 percent of black voters chose Bush, which actually marks a slight improvement over the level of support he received from them in 2000 -- nine percent.
A higher percentage of Jewish voters -- particularly Orthodox Jews and Russian emigres -- also cast ballots for Bush this year. The exit poll figures range from 20 percent to 25 percent. In 2000, against then-Vice President Al Gore, Bush received only 19 percent of Jewish-American votes.
Nonetheless, the results were disappointing for Bush's campaign, which earlier this year had said it hoped to approach Ronald Reagan's 1980 record, when he received 39 percent of the Jewish vote.
"It's not adequate from my point of view," former New York mayor Ed Koch complained to 'The Jerusalem Post' on Wednesday. Koch, a life-long Democrat, had personally campaigned for Bush based on the administration's strong support for the hard-line policies of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
Jews constituted about three percent of the total electorate.
Arab Americans, who chose Bush over Gore by a 45-28 percent plurality in 2000, shifted most sharply in this year's election, voting for Kerry by a 63-29 percent margin, according to a Zogby International poll based on interviews with 500 Arab American voters in the swing states of Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida.
The margin was particularly wide (83 to six percent for Kerry) among Muslim Arab Americans, while Orthodox Arab Americans split their votes just about evenly between the two main-party candidates.
Ralph Nader, a Christian Lebanese American who garnered 16 percent of the Arab-American vote in 2000, received only 2.5 percent Tuesday, according to the Zogby poll which, despite its focus on the four swing states, was designed to reflect the overall demographic profile of the national Arab-American community. Arab Americans this year constituted about 1.5 percent of the total electorate.
Preliminary results of an exit poll conducted by the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), found nearly 90 percent of Muslim respondents, which included South Asians, Africans, and African Americans as well as Muslim Arab Americans, said they had voted for Kerry. But the survey required respondents to fax or email their responses to CAIR, a methodology generally considered less scientific than more conventional exit polling.
Polls of Asian Americans voted showed disparate results. One survey of more than 5,000 voters nationwide by the 'Los Angeles Times' found that Asian Americans voted almost two to one in favor of Kerry, although a disproportionate number of Californians included in the polls might have skewed the results in the Democrat's favor.
A second poll, by Edison/Mitofsky, found Asian-American voters split 56-44 percent for Kerry. Asian Americans make up approximately two percent of the national electorate.
In September, a more-comprehensive survey of Asian Americans, which broke down into national groups, such as Chinese Americans, India Americans and Filipinos, found a 43-36 percent plurality for Kerry with 20 percent undecided.
But it also found major differences within the Asian-American community, with Vietnamese and Filipinos generally more favorable toward Bush, and Hmong, Chinese Americans and Indian Americans tilting strongly toward Kerry.
In 2000, the overall Asian-American community split 55-41 percent in Gore's favor.
Latino Americans, who constitute about seven percent of the voting population, also tilted toward Kerry on Tuesday by between 53 and 56 percent, according to several exit surveys.
Bush, who received between 42 and 46 percent of the Latino vote, showed a marked improvement over 2000, when only an estimated 35 percent of Latinos chose him over Gore.
Despite significant losses among Cuban Americans in Florida -- some reports indicated Kerry might have doubled the Democratic share of their vote to about one-third or slightly better -- Bush's gains among Latinos in some Rocky Mountain states were seen by some observers as decisive in keeping their electoral votes out of Kerry's reach.
"The White House strategy of going after Hispanic voters at the national level has borne fruit," Larry Gonzalez, Washington director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, told the 'Los Angeles Times' on Thursday.
November 11, 2004 (http://www.albionmonitor.com) All Rights Reserved. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for permission to use in any format.
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