American views of Arabs and Muslims improve, AAI study shows
Poll Shows Positive Shift Accompanied by a Deep Partisan Rift in Americans’ Views of Arabs & Muslims. This, in the face of an Increase in Hate Crimes & Bigotry
(Washington) The Arab American Institute (AAI) released a new poll today, examining American Attitudes towards Arabs, Muslims, immigration, civil rights, hate crimes and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The poll data shows American favorable attitudes of Arabs, Muslims, Arab Americans and American Muslims have risen to their highest levels in the past decade with majorities now having favorable attitudes toward both Arab Americans and American Muslims and a plurality positively inclined towards Arabs and Muslims. There are increases in positive ratings among every demographic and partisan group – including those who self-describe as Trump supporters. Nevertheless, there remains a deep partisan split – with Republicans still decidedly more hostile to both Arabs and Muslims than Democrats or Independents.
“Despite the increase in favorable attitudes toward Arab Americans and American Muslims, a worrisome deep partisan divide persists. This divide sets the stage for increased hate crimes and discrimination against both communities,” said AAI President James Zogby.
“The increased bigotry communities are experiencing right now seems to also be raising awareness among the public about the very real dangers of this trend. With half of all Americans now believing there’s an increase in the number of individuals and groups that identify with white supremacy, policy makers should see this as a call to action. It is time for our elected officials to push back against the bigotry, xenophobia and hatred we are witnessing, even when it comes from the President,” said AAI Executive Director Maya Berry.
Among the Poll’s Key Findings
A strong plurality of Americans oppose banning Muslims or immigrants and visitors from the Middle East from entering the US. But while Trump supporters favor banning immigrants and visitors from the Middle East, by a 60%/21% margin, only 12% of self-described Trump opponents support such a ban, with 72% opposing.
When it comes to identifying the best way to resolve the issue of undocumented immigrants, overall 55% of all Americans favor allowing them to remain in the US and providing them a pathway to citizenship
A plurality of Americans also recognizes that there has been an increase in hate crimes against Arabs and Muslims. Once again, there is a deep partisan split with, for example, 60% of Democrats agreeing that anti-Arab hate crimes are increasing, and 53% of Republicans disagreeing.
Most disturbing in the poll’s findings is the attitudes of Republicans toward Arab Americans or American Muslims working in government – since attitudes in this area directly affect the ability of both communities to fully participate as citizens. For example, a slight majority of Americans are confident that Arab Americans could carry out their responsibilities as government employees without their ethnicity influencing their decision-making, but a plurality of Republicans disagrees. Attitudes are even more negative with regard to American Muslims.
On the question of how the Trump Administration should conduct Israeli/Palestinian policy? By more than 2 to 1, Americans say it “should strike a balance” between the two sides. Here again, there is a deep partisan split. While 58% of Democrats want balance and only 11% say US policy should favor Israel, 41% of Republicans want Trump to favor Israel and 37% support a balanced policy. Independent voters have attitudes in this area that are similar to those of Democrats.
These results were released earlier today at a briefing with AAI President James Zogby presenting its findings. He was joined for analysis by Joyce Karam, Washington Correspondent for Al-Hayat and The National and Sabrina Siddiqui, political reporter at The Guardian. AAI Executive Director Maya Berry moderated the discussion.
Founded in 1985, the Arab American Institute (AAI) is a nonprofit organization committed to the civic and political empowerment of Americans of Arab descent. AAI provides policy, research and public affairs services to support a broad range of community activities. For more information please visit aaiusa.org