US President Donald Trump has made inroads into the Indian-American vote bank, according to a survey report released recently.
The survey by Indiaspora and Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders (AAPI) Data on Tuesday showed that Trump, seeking re-election, is making a big dent into the Indian-American vote bank despite the fact that Biden has a strong relationship with the community and has played a key role in bilateral ties over the past few decades. Biden also nominated Senator Kamala Harris, as his running mate last month. Harris is the first candidate of Jamaican-Indian origin to run for the post.
Notably in the 2016 presidential election, 77 percent voted for former US Secretary Hillary Clinton, and 16 percent voted for Trump. In 2012, as many as 84 percent of Indian-Americans voted for Barack Obama.
Dr Karthick Ramakrishnan, professor of public policy and political science at University of California, Riverside and founder of AAPI Data, said that the Indian-Americans’ support to Trump, might reach the 30 percent mark if Trump is able to woo the undecided voters.
“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 Ramakrishnan.
Indian-American Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, said that every vote in the swing states will make a huge difference. “Democrats absolutely should be concerned about making sure that they conduct sufficient outreach to the Indian-Americans," Krishnamoorthi added.
While the support for Biden has dropped as compared to what Clinton received in 2016, the support of the Indian-American for the Republican Party has also dropped from 19 percent to 16 percent in these four years.
“Given the Indian diaspora’s increasing political importance in the US, it’s no surprise they are being courted by both sides of the aisle,” said MR Rangaswami, founder of Indiaspora. “It’s great that both major political parties have begun to realise just how critical it is to reach out to Indian-Americans – our impact is only going to increase over time,” he added.
Milan Vaishnav, director, South Asia Programme, at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace said, “Trump’s campaign has made a lot of efforts, to reach out to Indian-Americans, including putting together a nice video advertisement featuring Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the Howdy Modi event in Houston last November, showing the camaraderie between the President of the United States and Prime Minister of India.”
Describing Trump as a polarising factor, Representative Niraj Antani from the Ohio State Assembly said that there are a lot of reasons for this swing of votes. “The President's outreach to the community, him going to India and sharing a platform with Modi and his neutrality on issues like Citizenship Amendment Act, abrogation of Article 370, as opposed to Vice President Biden's opposition has polarised the community,” Atani said.
Currently, there are 1.8 million Indian-Americans in the US who are eligible to vote.