While the community is not a monolith and the Democrats will get support from the Indian Americans, the preference of some members of the community are shifting, claimed the study “The Indian American Voter in 2020” published on September 9.
“In the lead-up to the 2016 presidential elections, Indian Americans raised over $10 million towards the Democratic ticket, enthusiastically endorsing a bid for a Clinton presidency. However, as one of the most powerful and influential fundraising demographics for any given campaign in US politics, some Indian American donors have slowly leaned towards President Donald J. Trump,” according to the Atlantic Council. “From serving as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s opener during his September 2019 visit to Houston to a showy state visit to Modi’s hometown in Gujarat in February, President Trump has made unprecedented efforts to connect and reach the Indian American community.”
The Asian American community has historically supported the Democratic Party in presidential elections. The 2016 exit polls indicated that four out of five (79 percent) Asian Americans voted for Hillary Clinton, while only 18 percent voted for Trump. South Asians, most of whom are Indian American, were among Clinton’s strongest supporters, with 90 percent voting for the Democratic candidate, according to the Atlantic Council.
“The 2016 poll numbers came from a culmination of efforts made by the Obama-Biden administration to forge an otherwise unlikely friendship with the Modi government,” the study explained.
The think tank claimed that much has changed since the Obama years. “Beyond the symbolic bonhomie, the Democrats have continued to make critical remarks about the state of religious freedom in India and Kashmir more generally,” the study noted, indicating this may have had impact on the Indian American community.
The think tank claimed that Trump has made a concerted effort to court the Indian American vote, including running targeted ads and participating in rallies with the Indian American community. “The increased attention and evolving Trump-Modi dynamics, in addition to prominent Indian American Republicans like Nikki Haley and Bobby Jindal, may be contributing to an increasingly shifting Indian American political base. The nearly 50,000 people that attended the “Howdy, Modi!” rally in Houston in 2019 showed that Prime Minister Modi has broad and deep support among a sizeable portion of Indian American community.”
“And these voters are likely to remember that Prime Minister Modi used his iconic election slogan when announcing President Trump to the stage, stating in Hindi “ab ki baar Trump sarkaar,” or “this time around, it will be a Trump government.” The two leaders’ apparent friendship was in full view as they walked out holding hands, and this display of camaraderie brought down the house,” the study claimed.
However, the study pointed out that the Indian American community is not a monolith and there is a large section of the community “that see themselves in Senator Harris’ story. Many have the same picture of sari-clad relatives as immigrants in America.”
The study concluded that Biden-Harris campaign should prepare itself for a demographic leaning more across the political spectrum than in 2016—with some confirming that India and Indian-related policies figure significantly into their voting decisions.