Despite uptick towards Trump, majority of Indian-Americans support Democrats, show diaspora surveys

According to multiple polls conducted by diaspora organisations and CNN, a majority of the Asian-American community and two-thirds of Indian-Americans in particular currently favour Democratic challenger Joe Biden in the US Presidential elections.

with an Indian-origin candidate running for Vice-President this time, the Indian community has shown a greater interest in US politics.
With an Indian-origin candidate running for Vice-President this time, the Indian community has shown a greater interest in US politics. Photo courtesy: Twitter/@JoeBiden

This trend has been continuing over the past two decades, with preliminary data from late August 2020 polls showing Biden leading comfortably among Asian Americans this year as well.

Among the Indian-American community, 28 per cent favour Trump for the 2020 presidential election. It marks a significant 12-point uptick in his support since 2016 when only 16 per cent voted for Trump as against 77 per cent for Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton.

According to a joint survey of over 1,500 Asian-origin community members in the US conducted by nonpartisan community organisation Indiaspora and survey from AAPI Data, Trump remains unpopular with a large part of the Indian-American voting block; 53 per cent of those surveyed viewed him very unfavourably, while 7 per cent viewed him somewhat unfavourably.

However, they added, due in large part to Trump's efforts to show goodwill towards India and the Indian-American community, typified by the Howdy, Modi event in 2019 and Trump's three-day visit to India in February 2020, a small but vocal section of the community showed their support for the incumbent US President.

US President Trump (left) with Indian PM Modi at a rally in Motera Stadium, Ahmedabad in February. Photo courtesy: Facebook/Narendra Modi
US President Trump (left) with Indian PM Modi at a rally in Motera Stadium, Ahmedabad in February. Photo courtesy: Facebook/Narendra Modi

“Indian Americans are positioned to make a difference in several swing states that may be close in this election, such as Florida (87,000), Pennsylvania (61,000), Georgia (57,000), Michigan (45,000), and North Carolina (36,000), and perhaps even Texas, which has 160,000 Indian-American voters,” said Dr Karthick Ramakrishnan, professor of public policy and political science at UC Riverside, and founder of AAPI Data.

54 per cent of Indian Americans identified as Democrats, 16 per cent as Republicans, and 24 per cent as Independents, according to the surveys. In fact, regardless of their country or ethnic group, Asian Americans report favouring Democrats more than Republicans. And with an Indian-origin candidate running for Vice-President this time, the Indian community has shown a greater interest in US politics.

Dr Thomas Abraham, founder of the Global Organisation of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO), and one of the most prominent Indian community leaders on the US East Coast, was thrilled about the nomination, stating it was a great step forward for Indians in the US.

“It is history in the making. For the Indian-American community, with only 50+ years of building a community in America, it is a great achievement,” he told Connected to India, adding “One day, she could also become the US President. When our migration started, we could never even dream about this day. But it has happened earlier than we envisaged.”

CNN, New York Times,
Courtesy: National Asian American Survey

Interestingly, political experts stated that while Harris' nomination as the first Indian-origin and black woman to be on the Democrat Vice-Presidential ticket has helped sway the Indian community, surveys showed that the Asian-American shift from Red to Blue began as far back as the year 2000.

More Asian Americans used to report voting for the Republican candidate. But since 2000, more have reported voting for the Democratic candidate, exit poll data showed.

In the controversial 2000 Presidential election, Democrat Al Gore received 54% of the Asian American vote, against 41% for Republican George W Bush. This was the first time since the demographic had been surveyed as a separate community that the Democrats' candidate got a larger vote share, a trend that has continued till the 2016 election.

The data above shows that the Asian-American community have voted for the Democats over the last two decades. Courtesy: CNN, New York Times exit polls
The data above shows that the Asian-American community have voted for the Democats over the last two decades. Courtesy: CNN, New York Times exit polls

Another reason for the increased attention towards the Asian-American community comes from the fact that the number of eligible voters has more than doubled over the past 20 years, making it the fastest-growing racial or ethnic group in the electorate. More than 1.8 million Indian Americans are eligible to vote in the November 3 general election.

High turnout by Indian Americans could make a huge difference in this election, Indiaspora and AAPI Data’s joint survey stated. Despite the uncertainty of the upcoming elections, what is clear is the Indian-American community will play a significant role now and in years to come, they added.

Author
Tushaar Kuthiala
Tushaar Kuthiala – Associate Editor

Tushaar has extensive experience as a journalist and in founding two start-up newspapers. He has developed editorial models for both copy and content, and has written several articles, news reports on a wide range of topics. He is a graduate of St. Stephen’s College and earned a post-graduate diploma in TV Journalism from the Asian College of Journalism (ACJ), Chennai. He has worked as a special correspondent based in New Delhi with Daily World, an international media organisation. 

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