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Desis favour Obama for US President: Poll

Last updated on: May 16, 2012 21:04 IST

Desis favour Obama for US President: Poll

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Aziz Haniffa in Washington, DC

The first-ever poll of Asian-American voters finds support for President Obama, but also room for outreach. Aziz Haniffa reports in this two-part series.

The first-ever poll of voter attitudes among Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders has found that support for President Barack Obama is the strongest among Indian Americans, both in terms of job performance and favorability.

Overall, Obama led the presumptive Republican Presidential nominee, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, by a margin of 76 to 8 per cent.

The poll findings said, 'President Obama was strongest among Indian-American voters, leading Mitt Romney by a margin of 76 to 8 per cent, and weakest among Filipino Americans, where the vote was 57 percent to 20 per cent. Among Chinese Americans, it was 68 per cent for Obama, 8 per cent for Romney.'

The poll, conducted by Lake Research Partners and directed by pollster Celinda Lake, revealed that Asian American and Pacific Islander voters are still largely untapped by Presidential candidates and their parties even though they are expected to vote in record numbers this fall.

It said that Asian American and Pacific Islander voter attitudes shows that close elections in important states like Florida, Nevada and Virginia could go to the candidates who best engage such voters, a demographic with increasing political clout.

The poll, which marked the first time voting trends among the nation's fastest-growing racial group and how they will vote their views on a range of issues, surveyed more than 1,100 voters across the country last month.

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Image: United States President Barack Obama


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The poll findings were released last week by the Asian American Justice Center and APIAVote to bring attention to this crucial voting bloc at the start of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.

"What we find," Lake told India Abroad, "is that the Indian-American community is one of the strongest for Obama right now and also for the Democrats, with 55 per cent identifying as Democratic and they are 76 per cent saying they will vote for the President and 66 per cent saying they will vote for the Democrats for Congress. This is the group that has been most positive about the President's job performance -- 63 per cent -- and also the highest in terms of favorability toward the President -- 85 per cent -- along with Japanese Americans."

She said Indian Americans were, "The group relatively most negative about Romney -- 56 per cent negative -- but a fifth are still uncertain about him. There are still opportunities (for Romney to make inroads) in that community. We also found, in terms of contact, that in the Indian-American community, 30 per cent had been contacted by the Democrats and 15 per cent by the Republicans. So, there is still a huge number of people who are not being reached out to by either party."

 Asked if there were any particular reasons for Indian Americans being gung-ho about Obama, Lake said she could only speculate. "But the things that we see in the data are that number one, they are more Democratic in their leaning; and some of that may be cause and effect," she said. "And secondly, that they are more likely to think that Obama is doing a good job and that's one of the real drivers."

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The poll found that more than half -- 51 per cent -- of Indian Americans have very favorable views on President Obama, and 85 per cent overall have favorable views -- compared to 34 per cent of Asian Americans who hold very favorable views and 73 per cent overall.

Indian Americans are also more negative towards Romney, with 56 percent having unfavorable views about him (44 per cent of Asian Americans have unfavorable views). They are also the group that is more satisfied with the job President Obama is doing -- 63 per cent say he is doing an excellent or good job, compared to 49 per cent of Asian Americans overall.

In terms of the Presidential ballot, Obama is strongest among Indian-American voters, leading Romney 76 to 8 per cent. They are loyal to Obama; 67 per cent reported voting for him in 2008, and only 7 per cent said they voted for John McCain.

Indian Americans, the poll found, were also more Democratic than other Asian-American groups. First, 80 per cent have favorable views of the Democratic Party (42 per cent very favorable) -- compared to 65 per cent of Asian Americans overall who have favorable views, and 26 per cent very favorable.

Desis again are more negative towards the Republican Party, with 67 per cent having unfavorable views of the Republican Party.

Indian Americans are the most heavily Democratic Asian group: 65 per cent identify with the Democratic Party, 20 per cent as Independents, and only 9 per cent as Republicans (Asian Americans overall are more Democratic, but with a smaller margin: 53 per cent identify with Democrats, 21 per cent as independents, and 16 per cent as Republicans. Only pluralities, not majorities, of Filipinos, Koreans, and Vietnamese identify as Democrats.)

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Despite this, only 30 per cent have reported being contacted by the Democratic Party, a great deal or some in the past two years (12 per cent a great a deal), with 67 per cent reporting a little or no contact from the Democratic Party.

On the generic Congressional ballot, while some groups are more mixed on who they would support (45 per cent of Filipinos would support the Democratic candidate, 25 per cent would support the Republican), Indian Americans' preference for a Democrat is strong: 66 per cent would vote for the Democrat and only 9 per cent would vote for the Republican; 25 per cent remain undecided.

The poll also found that most Indian Americans surveyed were born overseas and speak another language at home. More than half (57 per cent) report speaking Hindi at home, 19 per cent report speaking another language, and 23 per cent just speak English. A highly proficient group, only 7 per cent say language has been a barrier in voting in previous elections.

Most Indian Americans were not born in the US -- 69 per cent were born in another country. Of those who were born in the US, 86 per cent have a parent or parents born outside of the US.

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