Despite anecdotal evidence, Indian Americans were found to solidly support the Democratic Party.

Former Vice President Joe Biden and California Senator Kamala Harris
news US Elections Wednesday, October 14, 2020 - 10:30

A new survey that looked at the voting trends of Indian-American citizens ahead of the 2020 presidential election in the United States found that the bloc plans to overwhelmingly vote in favour of former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris. The survey, released Wednesday from polling and analytics firm YouGov, noted that 72% of Indian-American voters polled are looking to vote for Biden, while only 22% for Trump.

The survey, which polled 936 citizens, derails the ever-growing narrative of Trump’s popularity with Indian-American voters due to his friendship with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Last year, around 50,000 Indian-Americans attended a stadium event for Modi in Texas, billed as ‘Howdy Modi!’, and earlier this year, Trump traveled to New Delhi amid significant hype and fanfare from Modi supporters. 

The 2020 Indian American Attitudes Survey was conducted between September 1 and September with researchers from the University of Pennsylvania, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Johns Hopkins University and YouGov. 

Among issues that Indian-American voters care about, US-India relations were found to be low priority, while healthcare and the economy emerged as important issues for the bloc. The presence of Kamala Harris, whose mother moved to the United States from Chennai, on the Democratic ticket has also mobilised a significant section of the population. Kamala has openly discussed her Indian roots and family on the campaign trail, including stories of visiting her grandfather in Besant Nagar. At the National Democratic Convention, she referred to her aunts as her “chithis.” 

Indian Americans are the second-largest immigrant group in America at present, with both high levels of education and income. The survey noted that the population of Indian American voters in swing states was higher than the margin of victory in the 2016 presidential race between Hillary Clinton and Trump. 

Here are the key findings from the survey:

â–ș The survey found that Indian-Americans, who have historically tilted towards the Democratic Party, continue to back it despite anecdotal evidence showing that they may be switching sides to the Republican party. According to the survey, 72% fo Indian Americans voting in the election were planning to vote for Biden, as opposed to 22% for Trump.

â–ș Contrary to popular opinion that the US-India relations will have been a factor and that the party stance on issues in India could determine how voters choose, the survey found that economy and healthcare were found to be two of the most important issues that influenced how people are voting. However, it does add that supporters of both parties differ on important issues. Only 3% of respondents ranked India-US relations as their most important election issue. 

â–ș Kamala Harris’ nomination for vice-president, as expected, the survey says has mobilised Indian Americans, and has pushed the community to go out and vote. It may, however, not make that much of a dent given Indian Americans’ leaning towards the Democratic party. 

â–ș The survey also found that US-born Indian American citizens tilted more towards the left as compared to citizens who were not born in the country. “Political participation by naturalized citizens is more muted, however, manifesting in lower rates of voter turnout and weaker partisan identification,” the survey said. 

â–ș As it is in most parts, Indian Americans were also found to be polarised politically. “Just like the wider voting public, Republican and Democratic Indian American voters are politically polarized and hold markedly negative views of the opposing party and divergent positions on several contentious policy issues—from immigration to law enforcement,” the survey states. 

â–ș Many Indian Americans were found to view the Republican party as unwelcoming (despite Trump’s push to appease the community). They were found to view the party as unwelcoming partly because of the perception that the party is intolerant towards minorities, as well as that it was “overly influenced by Christian evangelicalism”. Those leaning towards Republicans were primarily because of economic policy differences. 

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