Arab Americans in the United States: Population Breakdown

Arab Americans Are a Growing Electoral Force in Swing States

James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute (2004). Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

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.

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

RankState1980
Census
2000
Census
2008
Zogby Estimate
1California100,972220,372715,000
2Michigan69,610151,493490,000
3New York73,065125,442405,000
4Florida30,19079,212255,000
5New Jersey30,69873,985240,000
6Illinois33,50068,982220,000
7Texas30,27365,876210,000
8Ohio35,31858,261185,000
9Massachusetts36,73355,318175,000
10Pennsylvania34,86350,260160,000
11Virginia13,66546,151135,000

Source: Arab American Institute