Xenophobic, Anti-Muslim Campaigns Are Repelling Voters

There were many factors that contributed to Donald Trump being elected president in 2016. Evangelicals were motivated to show up at the polls in droves based on the promise of early unfettered rights under the guise of “religious freedom.” Conservatives were told that letting Hillary Clinton win would force them to hand over their guns and skyrocket their taxes.

But one of the major strategies at play in GOP campaigns — especially in the case of Trump — since the terrorist attacks of September 11 has been xenophobic, anti-Muslim rhetoric that signifies the worst of the right and its fears.

Thankfully, that xenophobia may no longer be the key to winning races. In fact, it could actually harm candidates.

According to a new study released by Muslim Advocates, anti-Muslim campaigns are failing at an unprecedented rate — especially compared to the last few elections in the U.S. Looking at a slate of specifically anti-Muslim candidates either in the 2017 elections or the 2018 midterms, the study notes that less than 14 percent of those candidates won or are projected as likely to win their races in November. And those who do win are usually incumbents with that advantage in their favor.

Scott Simpson, public advocacy director at Muslim Advocates, explained in a press release:

These campaigns are successful at inflaming bigotry and violence against American Muslims, but not much else. The voter data and interviews and the win-loss rates of candidates all point to the same conclusion: campaigning using anti-Muslim hate is a losing strategy. Anti-Muslim campaigns only appeal to a small and hostile sliver of the electorate. Vast majorities from both parties, almost every demographic group and every region prefer candidates who embrace religious freedom for American Muslims over the absurd anti-Muslim conspiracies that are proliferating in campaigns.

Anti-Muslim candidates are currently more predominate in states like Texas, Florida and Virginia, according to the report, but they still exist in almost every state in the nation. Perhaps most alarming is the fact that some of the most vicious anti-Muslim campaigns in the nation are happening in what are considered to be some of the most progressive states in the nation: California and Minnesota.

In early October, Simpson stated:

In California, a candidate is falsely painting an image of Islam as something other than a religion – as a “government” that needs to be “fought;” is claiming that teaching students not to bully Muslims is propaganda; and is running ads tying his opponent to a fictional conspiracy by Muslims to “infiltrate” Congress. In Minnesota, white supremacists are disrupting a Muslim candidates’ campaign events to spread hate, propaganda, and misinformation about Islam. These aren’t accidental and unrehearsed expressions of bigotry, these are calculated attacks on an entire religion. This rhetoric only hurts the country. It gives license to those who commit acts of violence against American Muslims and, as we’ve seen in election after election, it rarely even results in votes.

The decline of xenophobia and anti-Muslim bigotry as a winning campaign tactic likely goes hand in hand with the fact that there are now more Muslims running for office than at any point since 9/11. According to Emgage, a Muslim civil rights group, roughly 100 Muslims filed to run in the midterms, with around 50 still running as late as July. And for many of them, it’s the actual bigotry in politics from the GOP that encouraged them to run in the first place.

In July, NPR reported:

“I’m running for office because I felt a dire need to help the community,” says Saima Farooqui, who, if elected, would be the first Muslim representative in the Florida statehouse. “[Trump] has kind of ignited the minorities to be together and stand with each other and to make a difference.” Rhetoric that puts down Muslim Americans has actually empowered them to take a more active role in politics, she tells Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson.

Are we finally reaching a turning point on open bigotry against Muslims in the United States? If so, it’s about time.

Photo Credit: Jerry Kiesewetter/Unsplash

36 comments

Chad Anderson
Chad Anderson4 days ago

Thank you.

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Bill Arthur
Bill Arthur22 days ago

Dan; strange that only those who just believe are able to 'see' this evidence. When I accept something as evidence or proof it has to be able to be seen or reproduced and replicated. Dreams are not evidence.

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Bill Arthur
Bill Arthur22 days ago

Dan, strange that none of that evidence exists in reality, just in people's minds and old books.

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Dan B
Dan Blossfeld24 days ago

Bill Arthur,
There is plenty of evidence and proof. There are just those so blind that they refuse to see it.

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MilliSiteProbs M
MilliSiteProbs M24 days ago

Bill Arthur
Old wives tales are not the only thing we need to get rid of. And you are right, we do need to get people to think critically and rationally on all subjects, including politics. Follow the leader blindly without question does not work well for anyone and creates the hate you mentioned.

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Dr. Jan Hill
Dr. Jan Hill25 days ago

thanks

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Bill Arthur
Bill Arthur25 days ago

I see people worrying about 'the end times' and one religion taking over from their religion. The solution to all this hatred is to get people to think critically and rationally and then they would soon understand that all this malarky about magic beings is false. If people only checked for some evidence and proof before 'just believing' we could get rid of all these old wives tales.

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Alea C
Alea C25 days ago

With Trump using the Honduran migrants coming here to work people up into a frenzy, I'm scared to death the republicans will maintain their power. VOTE BLUE!

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Jetana A
Jetana A25 days ago

Wonderful patriotic scarves! Good to read that xenophobia has waned a bit.

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pam w
pam w25 days ago

I'm not a fan of Islam and have traveled in enough Islamic countries to understand that, eventually, Islam WILL take over governments/remove rights from everyone other than Muslim men. Now, having said that...can we really stand silently by while the GOP whips up flames of hatred against ordinary people? You can bet Christians would be flooding the nation with ''crocodile'' tears if posters like that featured THEM!

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