Muslim-bashing has long been a strategy some Republican presidential candidates have used to appeal to their right-wing core. But it’s getting harder and harder for politicians to get away with that.
Though the percentage of Muslims living in the United States is still relatively small (about 1 percent), their share of the population nearly doubled in the past seven years, according to the Pew Research Center. From 2000 to 2010, the number of Muslims living in the United States increased by about 1 million to 2.6 million, based on estimates from the Association of Religion Data Archives.
Most of these Muslims are U.S citizens, too, which means they are a voting bloc. Their potential influence in the 2016 elections was a key topic during a conference organized this week by the Muslim Public Affairs Council, a civil-rights and advocacy group based in Washington.
Here are four things Muslim leaders said they want policy makers to keep in mind during the 2016 elections:
1. The number of potential Muslims voters is growing in swing states.
Muslim communities are growing in swing states including Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Florida. So their votes could be crucial in choosing the next president. For example, the Muslim population in Virginia grew from 51,000 in 2000 to 213,000 in 2010, according to the Association of Religion Data Archives. In Florida, the Muslim population grew from 32,000 to 165,000 during the same time period. The vast majority are U.S. citizens.