Could Michelle Bachmann cost Romney the Presidency?

Michele Bachmann is flailing around accusing all the US government officials of Muslim heritage of being connected to the Muslim Brotherhood (which in turn she misunderstands as a radical group). Not only did she attack the aide to Hillary Clinton, Huma Abedin, but when Rep. Keith Ellison complained about her McCarthyite campaign, she launched the same accusation at him (Ellison is one of two Muslims in the Congress).

Bachmann’s bizarre behavior (there, I’ve been redundant) is alarming the Republican establishment. Even right wing poobah Mike Rogers (R-Michigan), head of the House intelligence committee, after initially supporting her, has backed away from Bachmann’s nuttiness, at least on this issue.

Given her own strong ties to the Iranian terrorist organization, the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK or People’s Holy Jihadis), Bachmann is in a weak position to accuse other people. The MEK was involved in taking US diplomats hostage, and then in the 1990s allied with Saddam Hussein. In fact, her colleagues in Congress should investigate if she has taken money from the MEK, or has given them material assistance. She is, I’ve argued much closer to the Muslim Brotherhood than the people she is accusing. It is extremely scary that this woman is on the House Intelligency Committee. She would even be in a position to share US intelligence with MEK terrorists.

Establishment Republicans are increasingly dissociating themselves from her just because they don’t want to be tarred by her brush. And, in general, you don’t want the Republican brand being dominated by Bachmann in an election year. But there is another consideration that may have them running from her.

Just as Arizona governor Jan Brewer’s campaign against Latinos has helped deprive GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney of support in that community, Bachmann’s targeting of Muslim-Americans and, implicitly, Arab-Americans, could hurt Romney in those communities.

One of Romney’s strategies for winning enough votes in the electoral college to become president is to target the big Midwestern states of Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Those three all have significant Arab-American and Muslim-American communities. The Arab-Americans in Michigan are often considered a swing vote, since the state is pretty evenly divided otherwise. They had tended to vote Republican in the 1990s, but George W. Bush’s wars in the Middle East and his alliance with the worst elements in the evangelical community and the right wing of the Israel lobby drove them into the arms of the Democrats. See this VOA report on how Arab-Americans (who include both Muslims and Christians) are trending Democrat

The Midwestern states could be close, and even small communities could turn the election to one side or another. Remember how Florida in 2000 hung on just a few hundred votes. Well, there are over 250,000 Arab-Americans in Florida. Probably at least half of them are Christians, but they can all tell when someone is prejudiced against their culture.

Florida has over 250,000 Arab-Americans now– enough to be a swing vote given how close Florida elections are:


Courtesy Arab-American Institute

Muslim-Americans also have significant communities all through the swing states:


(courtesy this site

Everyone knows that Bachmann is a Republican and former primary candidate for the presidential nomination on that party ticket. Her antics may impress people in Anoka, MN (though how, I can’t imagine). But the Muslim-American and Arab-American voters are unlikely to be amused.

23 Responses

  1. Her antics may impress people in Anoka, MN (though how, I can’t imagine)

    Hi Juan.

    I used to live in Bachmann’s district (and indeed, live not far from its borders now). They are strongly conservative suburban, and exurban Republicans, and yes, her antics DO impress people in her district. Sad but true.

  2. It sets Romney up with an opportunity to condemn her and show strength of character and courage. Don’t hold your breath.

  3. Unfortunately, her “nuttiness” (as you so charitably put it, Juan; I’d prefer derangement) is shared by too many Tea Partiers – such as TP honcho who demands now that Obama prove that he hasn’t smoked crack or had gay-sex with some con-man. That Bachmann hasn’t been – and likely won’t be – censured by Congress tells us all we need to know about the current dysfunctionality of our legislative branch.

  4. “They had tended to vote Republican in the 1990s, but George W. Bush’s wars in the Middle East and his alliance with the worst elements in the evangelical community and the right wing of the Israel lobby drove them into the arms of the Democrats.”
    I can completely identify with that comment. In high school I was a staunch Republican due to their stance on social issues. When the neocons (Karl Rove, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Gonzalez) took over the party, I dumped the Republicans. I’ll consider returning when the party regains its sanity. It It looks like it’s beginning to happen with people like Ron Paul.

    • Since when is Ron Paul any kind of “Republican,” other than as a flag of convenience? You fear Sharia law? what do you think a Ron Paul-directed US of A would look like? Ask a woman, sans pearls, how she might feel about that kind of future. You think Paul would have any interest, once in power, in cutting back on any of our military excrescences? And of course he has some interesting notions of what America as a “freee market” would magically look like.

  5. Some good points.

    While Arab-American voters, like most minorities, trend Democrat, the fact is they are hardly monolithic. Palestinian-Americans are heavily Republican but other Arab and Muslim constituencies tend to favor Democratic interests, not unlike Hispanic voters, who are predomiinantly Democratic – except Cuban-Americans.

    Remember the political hot potato in 2000 when the Cuban-American community in Florida galvanized in a pro-Bush push following the Elian Gonzalez debacle. After Bush was initially (but premaurely) declared the winner by the network news reporters, the first thing he did was call to thank the Cuban-American chairman of the Florida Republican Party. The Elian Gonzalez affair changed the course of the American presidency for the next eight years.

    The realities are that Arab and Muslim voters are prevalent in swing states such as Ohio, Michigan and Florida. Remember in 1948 when Harry Truman got large Jewish support at the polls in swing states such as Illinois for his advocacy of the declaration of the State of Israel early that year. There is no reason for the GOP to alienate a potential source of support this election year.

    • The polling suggests that Arab-Americans and Muslim Americans have fled the GOP in droves and very few still vote that way. Having Bachmann as the face of the GOP for them would make sure they don’t come back.

  6. What movie character used to say, “Interesting……..VERY interesting!”

    In the sad, inexplicable case of Michele Bachman, I seriously doubt that she understands the meaning of the word, “flailing”…… along with many others.

    Cheer up, Michele; it’s rather like a fish out of water…shortly before it STOPS….. “flailing”.

    There! She certainly should understand THAT!!!

    • Re your first question: It was Henry Gibson as a “Nazi” on “Laugh-In” who said, “Interesting….”

      Michele Bachmann is a lunatic. Not so much “interesting… very interesting” as “depressing…very depressing.”

  7. Interesting article, but having grown up near Philadelphia, I am puzzled that you should call Pennsylvania a “midwestern” state.

      • I was thinking that this might be what you meant (I had an aunt and uncle who lived in Pittsburgh). Still, it was kind of strange to see this. Does the Western part of the state have a significant Muslim population?

  8. The loss (if any) of Arab and Muslim votes might be compensated by a gain in anti-Arab and anti-Muslim votes–i.e. the Republican base. Many of these are also anti-Obama votes, which Romney can expect to receive anyway, but some of them are, for example, Jewish votes which might have gone either way.

    Your map basically just shows that Muslims tend to live in urban areas (and incidentally, what’s that red dot doing up in the Texas panhandle? Is Amarillo really more than 5% Muslim?).

  9. Dear Professor Cole

    Where do you suspect Romney would appoint her to be Ambassador to?

    Isn’t that what happens to failed candidates?

    With John Bolton at State Department she would be a shoo in.

  10. Not that it matters, given the reality of our Imperial Court and how Bidness is done in Washington, but those of us who cling to a quaint notion that the spoils system actually is supposed to effectuate some Change when there’s a change in the nominal party in power might ask if there’s a snowball’s chance that the Nuttiness might lead to Sanity and Honesty and Fairness and that kind of silliness in the Bazaar that is Congress.

    For those not clear on how “Policy” and legislative sausage are actually made, might I recommend at least the first few chapters of Matt Taibbi’s “The Great Derangement”? Also illustrative of how Outliers like Bachmann (and Thurmond and Helms and DeLay and such) get there and stay there. Gotta love our Freedom…

  11. Bachman is so out of touch with reality she may fancy she will get the attention of Romney who will consider her as a running mate.

    Sounds outlandish, I agree. But then Bachman is outlandish in her public personna and appears to live in a delusionary world.

  12. Mittens does not have the guts to confront Bachmann’s racism for fear of offending the Tea Party nuts who supposedly adore her. Wouldn’t it be great if offended Arab-American voters help keep Romney out of the White House! Latino and women voters who he offended mightily during the Republican primaries, need to do their part too to keep this phony, rich baloney from becoming President.

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