The Indian American Vote Matters In Swing States
WASHINGTON, DC (IANS) – Indian Americans have become a potent political force, not just due to their growing numbers — around four million — but also because of their growing influence as well as affluence.
Considered to be key players in the battleground or swing states, the impact of Indian Americans was evident on the ballot box as they turned up in huge numbers to vote in the tightly contested November 2020 presidential race.
During the 2020 Democratic primary, candidates across the board received substantial financial backing from Indian Americans.
In September, Indian Americans raised a record high of $3.3 million for the Joe Biden campaign in one night. And over a weekend, an event for Kamala Harris was estimated to have raised at least another $2 million to $3 million, a Quartz report said.
At 71 percent, Indian Americans reported the highest rate of voting among the Asian American communities in the 2020 race, a nine-percentage point increase over 2016, according to the US Current Population Survey data.
Some 1.3 million Indian Americans voted in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wisconsin — the states with no clear allegiances or leanings towards either of the two major parties in the US.
“In select swing states, the Indian American population is larger than the margin of victory that separated Hillary Clinton and Trump in the closely contested 2016 presidential race,” said Sumitra Badrinathan from the University of Pennsylvania.
The Indian American community has historically supported the Democrats in presidential elections with exit polls from 2016 indicating that four out of five (79 percent) Asian Americans voted for Hillary Clinton, while only 18 percent voted for Donald Trump.
A YouGov poll found that 72 percent of registered Indian American voters backed Biden in 2020, 77 percent voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016 and 84 percent for Barack Obama in 2012.
Results from Carnegie’s 2020 Indian American Attitudes Survey said that a large section of the community views the Republican Party as unwelcoming.
“Indian Americans refrain from identifying with the Republican Party due, in part, to a perception that the party is intolerant of minorities and overly influenced by Christian evangelicalism,” the Carnegie study said.
However, in the looming 2024 elections, Indian American voters are likely facing a tough call with candidates from their community jumping into the electoral fray.
While Democrat Harris leads the pack as Biden’s running mate, Vivek Ramaswamy, Nikki Haley, and Hirsh Vardhan Singh have thrown their hats from the Republican side. Scientist and entrepreneur Shiva Ayyadurai has announced his bid as an independent candidate.
“A majority of Indian Americans have a deep desire to see more Indian Americans elected to office,” Sara Sadhwani, an assistant professor of politics at Pomona College, said in a media report.
According to the Carnegie study, Indian Americans share common political, cultural, and economic interests. More than 60 percent of the community said they would feel better represented if Indian Americans were elected to office.
In addition, more than half said they would support an Indian American running for office regardless of their party affiliation.
Going by this calculation, all eyes are now set on the GOP Primary, scheduled for July 15-18, 2024, in Milwaukee, where the official presidential nominee will be formally selected, and which will in turn decide where the Indian American votes will swing.
Despite facing legal hurdles, former US President Donald Trump is perceived as the front-runner.
According to a Time report, the Indian American community’s political weight has not been lost on India and Narendra Modi, “who has leveraged its influence time and again.”