Arab-American Vote Key This Election

The Arab American Political Action Committee (search) nearly unanimously endorsed its candidate for president on Tuesday.

Its selection, John Kerry, is an about-face for this Michigan based group, which backed President Bush in 2000.

“President George W. Bush hurt us on many levels. He hurt us on civil rights. He hurt us on the war he started. He hurt us in the Middle East by leaving the Palestinians and Israelis [to] kill each other,” said AAPAC member Abed Hammoud.

Four years ago, Bush won the support of Arab-Americans nationwide with 45 percent of the vote. But with the War on Terror changing the political landscape, recent polls suggest Kerry will win their support in November -- but not necessarily because of what he stands for.

"The Arab community right now will be voting against Mr. Bush, not for Kerry,” said Osama Siblani, publisher of Arab American News (search).

Nationally, the Arab-American vote is only about 1 percent of all registered voters. But the population is large enough in several battleground states to have an impact.

“If you’re 5 percent of the vote in Michigan as Arab-Americans are, or 2 percent in Ohio and Florida, or a percent-and-a-half in Pennsylvania as we are, those numbers can be the difference,” said Dr. James Zogby of the Arab American Institute (search).

Zogby's brother, John, conducted a poll for the Arab American Institute in those four battleground states in early September, which showed John Kerry with a 17-point lead over Bush. In July, however, Kerry's lead was nearly 30 points in the Arab-American community.

"Both candidates still have opportunity to move. There still are undecided Arab-American voters -- 20 percent, which is much higher than the country as a whole,” said Zogby. “But to date, they have been very dissatisfied with the president. But Kerry hasn’t closed the deal yet."

This election could produce a record turnout of Arab-Americans, with an untold number from the community inspired to register by the War on Terror.

Click on the video box near the top of this story to watch a report by FOX News' Jeff Goldblatt.