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72% Indian Americans plan to vote for Biden: Survey

By Lalit K Jha
October 14, 2020 21:25 IST
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Indian-Americans continue to be strongly attached to the Democratic Party, with little indication of a shift towards the Republican Party, a latest survey of the community in the United States said on Wednesday.

IMAGE: Nearly three-quarters of registered Indian-American voters intend to support Joe Biden this Fall, compared to just 22 per cent for Donald Trump. Photograph: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

As many as 72 per cent of the registered Indian-American voters plan to vote for Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, while 22 per cent intend to vote for incumbent Republican Donald Trump, three per cent will support a third-party candidate, and three per cent do not intend to vote at all, according to the survey.


"Contradicting the emerging narrative, Indian-Americans remain committed to the Democratic Party. Nearly three-quarters of registered Indian-American voters intend to support Joe Biden this Fall, compared to just 22 per cent for Donald Trump," it said.

According to the report, 'Kitchen table' issues dominate over foreign policy concerns, Kamala Harris has mobilised Indian-Americans, especially Democrats and political beliefs seep into perceptions of the US-
India bilateral relations, it said.

The report "How Will Indian Americans Vote? Results from the 2020 Indian American Attitudes Survey," draws on the Indian American Attitudes Survey -- a collaboration between the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Johns Hopkins-SAIS and the University of Pennsylvania.

IAAS is a nationally representative online survey of 936 Indian-American citizens conducted between September 1 and September 20, 2020, in partnership with YouGov, a media release said.

It has an overall margin of error of +/- 3.2 per cent.

An emerging narrative is taking shape that suggests that the bonhomie enjoyed by Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi -- compounded by concerns over how a Biden administration might manage the US-India ties -- is pushing Indian-American voters to abandon the Democratic Party, the report said.

Results from a new survey find "no empirical evidence" to support either of these claims, it asserted.

"Despite talk about how America's ties with India might shape Indian-American voting behaviour this election, the US-India relations rank next to last on voters' list of priorities. Instead, the economy and
healthcare are the two most important issues influencing voters this election," said the survey.

The candidacy of Harris, the vice-presidential nominee of the Democratic party, has galvanised a sizeable share of the Indian-American community to turn out to vote. While the Harris pick might not change large numbers of votes, her candidacy has whipped up more enthusiasm for the Democratic ticket, it said.

Further, Indian-Americans believe that Democrats do a better job of managing the US-India ties by a considerable margin while Republicans hold more favourable views on Modi, said the report.

Noting that Indian-Americans exhibit signs of a significant political polarisation, the survey report said that the US-born Indian-Americans tilt left compared to foreign-born citizens.

"Indian-Americans refrain from identifying with the Republican Party due, in part, to a perception that the party is intolerant of minorities and overly influenced by Christian evangelicalism. Those who identify as Republicans are primarily moved to do so because of the economic policy differences with the Democrats -- with particularly marked differences regarding healthcare," it said.

Between 2000 and 2018, the Indian-American population grew by nearly 150 per cent, making it the second-largest immigrant group in America today. The community's elevated levels of educational attainment and household income render its members valuable campaign contributors and potential mobilisers, it said.

And in select swing states, the Indian-American population is larger than the margin of victory that separated Hillary Clinton and Trump in the closely-contested 2016 presidential race, the report noted.

According to the report, 56 per cent Indian-Americans consider themselves Democrats, 15 per cent Republicans, while 22 per cent independents.

While 29 per cent Indian-Americans classify themselves as moderate, a larger share of the remaining respondents place themselves on the ideological left: 11 per cent identify as extremely liberal, 23 per
cent as liberal and 13 per cent as slightly liberal.

The proportion of respondents situated on the right end of the ideological spectrum is much smaller: 4 per cent identify as extremely conservative, 13 per cent as conservative and an additional 6 as slightly
conservative, it said.

According to the report, a big takeaway from the survey is that there is scant evidence in the survey for the widespread defection of Democratic voters towards Trump -- contrary to popular narratives that have surfaced in the media ahead of the November 3 presidential election

Of the citizens who identify as Democrats, 89 per cent plan to vote for Biden, while a slightly smaller share (80 per cent) of Republicans plan to back Trump in November. The survey suggests that 64 per cent of respondents who identify as independents (about one-eighth of all Indian American voters) will back Biden, while 22 per cent intend to vote for Trump, similar to the broader community's overall political preferences, it said.

Furthermore, there is little evidence of a significant evolution in partisan allegiances since 2016, it said.

The vast majority (91 per cent) of Indian-Americans, who voted for Clinton in 2016, plan to support Biden. A smaller percentage of Indian-Americans, who voted for Trump in 2016 (68 per cent), plan to support him again.

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Lalit K Jha
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