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US elections: 66% of Indian-Americans back Biden

WASHINGTON: Two out of three Indian-Americans currently favor Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden, although there has been a significant uptick in their support for incumbent Donald Trump, according to a survey released Tuesday by Indiaspora, a nonpartisan community organization, and AAPI Data, which records demographics and policy developments relating to Asian American and Pacific Islanders.
In a voter survey that documents the growing political power and participation of Indian-Americans to the extent they can make a difference to the final outcome of the 2020, the organisations said in a joint report that 66 per cent of Indian-Americans current favor Biden and 28 percent favor Trump, with both Democratic and Republican parties reaching out to this increasingly influential voting bloc in the 2020 presidential election.
The report also said Indian Americans are positioned to make a difference in several swing states that may be close in this election, such as Florida (with 87,000 eligible Indian-American voters), 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. Trump won Michigan in 2016 by only 10,000 votes, and in some battleground states, the margin of victory was as little as two votes per precinct.
“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,” said Dr. Karthick Ramakrishnan, professor of public policy and political science at UC Riverside, and founder of AAPI Data.
The survey showed increasing political awareness and activism on part of Indian-Americans, who now number nearly 4.5 million in the U.S, and who, with 1.8 million eligible voters, constitute one of the fastest growing politically engaged minority groups, with significant numbers in “battleground” states. Scores of Indian-Americans are running for office across the country down to the county and school board level, with prominent Congressional candidates such as Shri Preston Kulkarni and Hiral Tipirneni in Arizona trying to make it to the “Samosa Caucus” as the five Indian-American lawmakers in Washington DC are called.
The survey report said a fifth of Indian American registered voters said they contacted their representative or government official in the US 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.
Consequently, both Democratic and Republican parties have conducted greater outreach to Indian Americans in this election than ever before, with 56 percent of Indian American registered voters surveyed saying they had been contacted by the Democratic Party in the past year, and 48 percent saying they had been contacted by the Republican party.
This, the survey said, 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.
“They are finally learning how to pronounce our names,” chuckled M.R.Rangaswami, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur and moving spirit behind Indiaspora who has sought to channel the Indian-American community’s energies towards philanthropy and constructive political engagement.
With increased attention being paid to the Indian Americans given their growing numbers, increasing political contributions and overall political engagement, the report wanted to shine a spotlight on the issues that really matter to Indian American voters, Rangaswami said.
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 the environment (88 percent). Additional issues of importance included racial discrimination (84 percent), policing reforms (84 percent), national security (84 percent) and immigration (80 percent), with US foreign policy in Asia lower in priority (66 percent).
While the survey showed a significant uptick in Indian-American support for Trump – up from 16 per cent in 2016 to 28 per cent now — greater political participation and party affiliation was evident in the declining number of independents.
Compared to 2016, when 46 percent of Indian American voters identified as Democrat, 35 percent were Independent or Other, and 19 percent identified as Republican, the latest survey showed 54 percent of Indian Americans identified as Democrats, 16 percent as Republicans, and 24 percent as Independents.

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