Identity, Issues, and Religious Commitment and Participation: Explaining Turnout among Mosque-Attending Muslim Americans


  • Jangsup Choi,

    1. The University of Texas, Brownsville
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    • Jangsup Choi is a Lecturer in the Government Department at the University of Texas at Brownsville. His research interests involve political behaviour, campaigns and elections, political parties, and state politics, with an emphasis on the decision-making process largely influenced by institutional and electoral arrangements. He is currently working on a project investigating how electoral systems influence nomination strategies and representation in U.S. state legislatures.
  • Gamal Gasim,

    1. Grand Valley State University
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    • Gamal Gasim is an Assistant Professor of Middle East Studies and Political Science at Grand Valley State University, and earned his Ph.D. in political science from Texas Tech University. Before Grand Valley, he taught at Texas Tech, University of Wisconsin-Madison during the summers of 2006 and 2007, and at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Beloit College during the summers of 2008 and 2009, respectively. His research interests include Islamic political parties, elections, Muslim Americans, and higher education in the Middle East.
  • Dennis Patterson

    1. Texas Tech University
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    • Dennis Patterson is an Associate Professor and Chair of the Political Science Department at Texas Tech University. He received his Ph.D. in Political Science from UCLA in 1995. He is the author of the book, The Japan that Never Was: Explaining the Rise and Decline of a Misunderstood Country. He has also contributed articles to World Politics, Comparative Political Studies, The British Journal of Political Science, Legislative Studies Quarterly, Asian Survey, and other journals.


While work on the political behaviour of religious groups in America has shown that, among other things, religious commitment and strong opinions on salient issues can encourage turnout and raise the probability of these groups' members voting in national elections, much less is known about these relationships with respect to Muslim Americans. Using data collected at mosques in 2006 during the holy month of Ramadan, this article maps the turnout patterns of Muslim American respondents and then investigates the factors that explain the political participation of members of this increasingly important religious group. The article focuses on reported turnout in the 2004 presidential election and shows that, more than anything else, strong opinions on salient issues boosted the participation rates of members of this religious group in the election, even when controlling for other factors known to help explain turnout.