Why Bernie Sanders being Jewish isn’t an issue for Muslim Americans

Published 10:29 AM EST, Fri March 11, 2016

Story highlights

Bernie Sanders had a sweeping victory in Dearborn, Michigan, a city with a large Arab population

Muslim voters explain that Sanders' Jewish identity is not an issue

(CNN) —  

Bernie Sanders’ win over Hillary Clinton in Tuesday’s Michigan primary was a surprise, not only because he performed so much better than polls had predicted, but because he also appears to have appealed to the state’s Muslim voters.

The city of Dearborn, with a population of about 40% Arab American residents, released election results showing that among all voters there, Sanders received 59% of the votes and Hillary Clinton received 39%.

There is no way to know exactly how much support Sanders had among Muslim voters specifically, but Sanders’ strong showing in an area with a high concentration of Arab American voters bucked an assumption some media commentators had about Muslim voters and Jewish candidates.

Some Muslims in Michigan are voting for a Jewish candidate.

“I think this is testimony against stereotypes that Muslims are anti-Semitic,” Dalia Mogahed, director of research at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, told CNN on Wednesday. “Muslim Americans are voting for policies.”

While Muslims make up just 1% of the U.S. population, some 70% of them lean towards or identify with the Democratic Party, according to a 2015 Pew Research Center report.

Sanders has come out strongly against Islamophobia. “His voice is consistent and credible for many younger Muslim voters,” Mogahed said.

Several presidential hopefuls have made comments about Muslim Americans while on the campaign trail. In fact, during Thursday’s Republican debate, CNN moderator Jake Tapper asked Donald Trump to clarify remarks he made during an interview with Anderson Cooper, in which Trump stated: “I think Islam hates us.”

Tapper asked whether Trump was referring to all Muslims, and the Republican hopeful responded, “I mean a lot of them.”