- A majority of the community — 66 percent — still supports Joe Biden, while 28 percent favors Trump.
Sixty-six percent of Indian Americans currently favor Vice President Biden, while 28 percent favor President Trump, and 6 percent are undecided, a 2020 Indian American voter survey has revealed. Although Indian Americans have traditionally voted for Democrats, there is a 12 percent increase among Indian American voters supporting President Trump, a jump from 16 percent who voted for him in 2016, to 28 percent currently favoring him.
“If the remaining undecided voters broke in the same pattern as those who have made up their mind, Biden would secure 70 percent of the vote, when compared to 30 percent for Trump,” the nonpartisan report that focused on the Indian American electorate, said.
The survey, conducted jointly by Indiaspora and Asian American Pacific Islanders (AAPI) Data, was released on Sept. 15, 49 days before the Nov. 3 elections. The details of the survey was presented in an online panel discussion by Dr. Karthick Ramakkrishnan, professor of public policy and political science at UC Riverside, and founder of AAPI Data, who authored the report.
The report revealed that when compared to 2012 and 2016, Indian American support for a Democratic candidate had reduced. Seventy-seven percent Indian Americans voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 elections; and 84 supported Obama in 2012. Keeping these numbers in a mind, a panel discussion following the release of the report, highlighted the importance of outreach by the Democrats in the South Asian American and Indian American communities.
Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), Rep. Niraj Antani, Ohio House of Representatives, Seema Nanda, Visiting Fellow, Harvard Law School Labor & Worklife Program, and former CEO, Democratic National Committee discussed ways in which the candidates can engage more with the community. Dr. Milan Vaishnav, director, South Asia Program, at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, moderated the panel.
“Democrats absolutely should be concerned about making sure that they conduct sufficient outreach to the Indian-Americans,” Rep. Krishnamoorthi said. “The Democrats should conduct sufficient outreach to the different groups that comprise Indian Americans, because every vote is going to count, especially in those battleground states as the survey result indicated,” he said.
“Indian Americans are positioned to make a difference in several swing states that may be close in this election,” the report said. “While most of the other large Asian American groups are heavily concentrated in California, Indian Americans are more dispersed across the country, and have a significant presence in several competitive districts and battleground states,” the report added. For example, Indian American eligible voters are sizable in states such as Florida (87,000), Pennsylvania (61,000), Georgia (57,000), Michigan (45,000), and North Carolina (36,000). “Their biggest role in 2020 may be in Texas, which has 161,000 Indian-American voters, many of whom have been courted heavily by both parties,” the report said.
“Given Senator Kamala Harris’s historic vice presidential nomination, as well as highly publicized rallies that President Trump and Prime Minister Modi held together, high turnout could make a huge difference in this election,” the report said.
The report traced the increasing importance of the Indian American vote in the U.S. political landscape. “The Indian American population has more than doubled since 2000, making it one of the fastest growing minority groups in America, with immigration and a rising second generation fueling much of that growth,” the report said.
There are 1.8 million Indian Americans in the U.S. who are eligible to vote, with 54 percent of Indian American registered voters surveyed saying they voted in their primaries this year, and 98 percent planning to vote in the upcoming election. Among those surveyed, 58 percent of Asian Indians were enthusiastic to vote, compared to 28 percent who were less enthusiastic.
Sixty-three percent of Asian Indians surveyed said that in the 2020 House race, they will support a Democratic candidate, while 24 percent support Republicans; 10 percent were undecided. Similarly, in the 2020 Senate race, 54 percent Asian Indians support Democrats, while 33 percent support Republicans and 11 percent are undecided.
Given their growing political clout, both as candidates running for office as well as donors and a powerful voting block, both Democratic and Republican parties have conducted outreach to Indian Americans in this election. Fifty-six percent of Indian American registered voters surveyed said they had been contacted by the Democratic party in the past year, and 48 percent said they had been contacted by the Republican party. “This is a marked increase from 2016, when only 31 percent of Indian Americans said they had been contacted by a political party, compared to 44 percent of White voters and 42 percent of Black voters,” the report said.
In addition, Indian American political engagement extended to several areas, with a fifth of Indian American registered voters saying they contacted their representative or government official in the U.S. this year, 74 percent had discussed politics with family and friends, and a quarter of those surveyed had donated to a candidate, political party or campaign this year. “By the end of June 2020, Indian Americans had donated at least $3 million to 2020 presidential campaigns,” the report said.
Regardless of party affiliation, the report found that issues at the top of the list that Indian American voters thought were extremely important or very important included, education (94 percent), jobs and economy (92 percent), health care (92 percent) and environment (88 percent), along with racial discrimination (84 percent), policing reforms (84 percent), national security (84 percent) and immigration (80 percent), with U.S. foreign policy in Asia lower in priority (66 percent).
In terms of dealing with healthcare, 63 percent said Democrats were better, while 15 percent favored Republicans; 19 percent said there was no difference while 4 percent were undecided. When it came to education, 51 percent favored Democrats and 16 percent favored Republicans. Fifty-nine percent of Asian Indians said Democrats were doing a better job in tackling racism and discrimination, while 13 thought Republicans were better. Fifty-six percent of Asian Indians preferred a bigger government and more services, while 22 percent preferred smaller governments fewer services; 40 percent Asian Indians supported healthcare for all immigrants, 9 percent did not; 44 percent supported pathway to citizenship, while 9 percent did not.
Bhargavi immigrated to the U.S. in 1997 and has worked with Indian American media since then in various capacities. She has a degree in English literature and French. Through an opportunity from Alliance Française de New York, Bhargavi taught French at Baruch college for over a year. After taking a break and two kids later, she went back to work in the Desi media. An adventure sport enthusiast, in her free time, she likes to cook, bake or go for hikes, biking and long walks.