Posted by Shadi Matar on March 14, 2016 in Blog

After Sen. Bernie Sanders shocking (or not so shocking) victory in last week’s Michigan Primary and with Donald Trump continuing to dominate among Republican voters many are hoping that “Super Tuesday 2.0” will change the playing field for all the candidates in this year's presidential elections. On March 15 there are 367 delegates up for grabs which could create interesting scenarios for each candidate moving forward.

With large Arab American populations in both Ohio and Illinois that have held roots in the midwest for more than 100 years there’s a diversity of perspectives going into this election.

For the Democrats, the Sanders camp is hoping that the midwestern states of Illinois and Ohio will follow what Michigan did last week while Secretary Hillary Clinton is hoping that her dominant poll numbers will hold true on Tuesday. Both Sanders and Clinton understand how important the two states are and have made extra campaign stops heading into Tuesday.

In Ohio, Clinton is polling ahead but Sanders has closed in on her advantage in recent weeks. 159 delegates are at stake, but since they are awarded proportionally, both candidates could come out strong.  

On the Republican side, the candidates are pulling out all the stops to try and slow down Trump’s momentum. Sen. Marco Rubio has even asked his Ohio supporters to vote for Governor John Kasich since he is the “only one who can beat Donald Trump in Ohio”. The state’s winner-take-all status and 66 delegates makes it critical on the complicated road to the national nominating convention.

Many Arab American Republicans are supporting Governor John Kasich as the ‘moderate choice’ in the state. Community veterans however feel that Kasich’s  home-state advantage will not resonate with younger voters who support Sanders’ stances on many of the issues. Nadeem Salem, who served as the President of the Northwest Ohio Arab American Chamber of Commerce, is supporting Clinton in the elections but can see why many in the community have chosen to support Kasich. “Kasich is very moderate in his views and he comes off as very down to earth person which makes him very likeable especially compared to his opponents and I think he will have a strong showing in Ohio come Tuesday.

In Illinois, the Arab American Democratic Club has thrown their support behind Sanders but many others in the state say they are fine with either Democratic candidate. Neda Marie is a law student at DePaul University in Chicago who supports Sanders but would be alright with a Clinton victory.  “Although Bernie and Hillary share similar views on many issues, Sanders leans more to the left and his message resonates with younger voters. I really support his student debt policy and his ideas for healthcare and I know that even if Hillary gets the nomination she will be pushed more left by Bernie”

For Republicans in Illinois, the choice is unclear for many who are torn between their options and the anti-Arab and anti-Muslim rhetoric that comes with some of them. Illinois has also proved troublesome for Trump who was forced to postpone a Chicago rally after a coalition of demonstrators, including Arab Americans, showed up in large numbers.

The midwestern states of Ohio and Illinois will set the tone for the rest of this primary season and could cement Hillary Clinton’s nomination or put greater momentum behind Bernie Sanders campaign. We could also see Trump continue his push across the country unless his opponents succeed in slowing him down.

The Ohio and Illinois primaries are Tuesday, March 15 and you can see what the candidates stances are on the top issues for Arab Americans here.