Kamala’s candidacy galvanises Indian-American voters as 72% lean Democratic: Survey

WASHINGTON: The Democratic Party retains the support of more than two-thirds of Indian-American voters in US, with 72 per cent registered voters intending to cast ballots for the Biden-Harris ticket compared to 22 per cent for President Trump, according to a new survey released Wednesday.
The survey also reveals that Kamala Harris’s vice presidential candidacy has galvanized a large section of the Indian American community to turn out to vote, and while the choice might not change voting preference given the community’s historic Democratic orientation, there is greater enthusiasm and mobilisation for the Democratic ticket. Forty five per cent of the respondents in a study sample of 936 said they were more likely to vote because of Harris being on the ticket.
The survey, conducted by the analytics firm YouGov and the think-tank Carnegie Endowment between September 1 to September 20, also found that Indian-Americans do not consider U.S.-India relations to be one of the principal determinants of their vote choice in this election, a line promoted by a few Indian-Americans in the Trump camp. Instead, economy and healthcare are the top two issues.
As such, the survey effectively lays to rest a narrative promoted by the Trump camp that the bonhomie enjoyed by the U.S President and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi–compounded by concerns over how a left-of-center Biden administration might manage U.S.-India ties–is pushing Indian American voters to abandon the Democratic Party.
Some Indian-American Trump operatives have claimed that there is a big shift and more than 50 per cent of the community has moved over to the Republican side. Going by the survey, the real shift may be more modest: going up from around the mid teens to 22 per cent.
A large section of Indian Americans also view the Republican Party as unwelcoming and refrain from identifying with it due to a perception that the party is intolerant of minorities and overly influenced by Christian evangelicalism. The Democratic tilt is also more pronounced among U.S.-born Indian Americans compared to naturalized citizens whose political participation is more muted, manifesting in lower rates of voter turnout and weaker partisan identification.
In fact, the survey suggests there may be a degree of dissatisfaction among Indian-Americans regarding Trump. It reveals that he vast majority (91 percent) of Indian Americans who voted for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in 2016 plan to support Biden in 2020, but a smaller percentage of Indian Americans who voted for Trump in 2016 (68 percent) plan to support him again in 2020.
At a broader level 56 per cent of the respondents identified themselves as Democrats, 22 per cent as Independents, and only 15 per cent as Republicans.
Indian-Americans constitute only about 0.82 percent of all eligible voters in the US (1.9million eligible voters from among 1.4 million naturalized citizens and 1.2 million born in the United States). But they could have an outsized influence in this election because, as the survey puts it, “the Indian American eligible voter population has grown to be larger than several of the victory margins seen in the 2016 presidential election, particularly in battleground states such as Michigan, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania.

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