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Arab Americans in the United States: Population Breakdown

Arab Americans Are a Growing Electoral Force in Swing States

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Arab Americans in the United States: Population Breakdown

James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute (2004)

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As a bloc, the 3.5 million Arab Americans in the United States are becoming an important economic and electoral minority. The largest concentrations of Arab Americans are in some of the most contested electoral battlegrounds of the 1990s and the 2000s--Michigan, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

In the early 1990s Arab Americans tended to register Republican more than Democratic. That changed after 2001. So have their voting patterns. [For a full analysts of Arab Americans' voting record going back to the 1996, see How Arab Americans Vote].

The largest block of Arab Americans in most states is of Lebanese descent. They account for a quarter to a third of the total Arab population in most states. New Jersey is an exception. There, Egyptians account for 34% of the Arab American population, Lebanese account for 18%. In Ohio, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, Lebanese account for 40% to 58% of the Arab American population. All these figures are based on estimates by Zogby International, conducted for the Arab American Institute.

A note about the population estimates in the table below: You'll notice quite a disparity between the 2000 Census Bureau figures and those of Zogby in 2008. Zogby explains the difference: "The decennial Census identifies only a portion of the Arab population through a question on 'ancestry' on the census long form. Reasons for the undercount include the placement of and limits of the ancestry question (as distinct from race and ethnicity); the effect of the sample methodology on small, unevenly distributed ethnic groups; high levels of out-marriage among the third and fourth generations; and distrust/misunderstanding of government surveys among more recent immigrants."

Arab American Populations, 11 Largest States

Rank State 1980
Census
2000
Census
2008
Zogby Estimate
1 California 100,972 220,372 715,000
2 Michigan 69,610 151,493 490,000
3 New York 73,065 125,442 405,000
4 Florida 30,190 79,212 255,000
5 New Jersey 30,698 73,985 240,000
6 Illinois 33,500 68,982 220,000
7 Texas 30,273 65,876 210,000
8 Ohio 35,318 58,261 185,000
9 Massachusetts 36,733 55,318 175,000
10 Pennsylvania 34,863 50,260 160,000
11 Virginia 13,665 46,151 135,000
Source: Arab American Institute
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