Indian Americans favour Biden: survey

GOP presidential candidate gaining ground over years

Updated - September 16, 2020 09:27 am IST

Published - September 16, 2020 07:25 am IST - Washington DC

Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden speaks about climate change and wildfires affecting western states, Monday, Sept. 14, 2020, in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden speaks about climate change and wildfires affecting western states, Monday, Sept. 14, 2020, in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

A significant majority of Indian Americans are expected to vote for Democratic nominee Joe Biden as per a new report released on Tuesday by Indiaspora, a nonpartisan diaspora organisation, and AAPI Data, an organisation that conducts data and policy research.

Sixty six per cent of Indian American voters favour Mr. Biden as their candidate of choice in the presidential election, 28% favour the incumbent Donald Trump, while 6% are undecided.

While Mr. Biden has a sizeable majority of the anticipated votes, the Democratic numbers are lower than in 2016 , where Indian Americans overwhelmingly (77%) voted for Hillary Clinton versus the 16% who voted for Mr. Trump.

However, 67% of Indian Americans had said they would vote for Ms. Clinton in 2016 pre-elections – a number comparable to this year’s potential vote for the Democratic candidate. Over 80% had supported former U.S. President Barack Obama in 2012.

Fifty four per cent of Indian Americans identify as Democrats, 16% as Republicans and 24% as Independents as per the report. The survey results are derived from AAPI Data’s 2020 Asian American Voter Survey which consisted of 1,569 (+/- 2% margin of sampling error) Asian American voters (including 260 registered voters identifying as Asian Indian margin of sampling error of +/- 6%).

Almost all (98%) of the Indian Americans surveyed said they would vote in the upcoming election while 54% said they voted in the primaries this year.

Through the use of campaign events and commercials, the Democratic and Republican parties have made a play for Indian American votes this year, which are seen as particularly crucial in battleground states (those with close races) such as Pennsylvania, Michigan, Georgia, North Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Texas and Arizona.

Also read:Trump campaign releases commercial for Indian-Americans featuring PM Modi

“I think Democrats absolutely should be concerned about making sure they conduct sufficient outreach to Indian Americans…because every vote is going to count, especially in those battleground states,” Raja Krishnamoorthi, a legislator from Illinois said during a panel discussion that accompanied the launch of the survey report. He was responding to a question on whether Democrats should be worried about Indian voter attrition.

Trump-Modi bonhomie

Republicans have touted the bonhomie between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Mr. Trump in the hopes of swaying some voters towards Mr. Trump. On the Democrat side, Kamala Harris ’s Indian roots have been a talking point at diaspora campaign events.


In terms of voter outreach, 56% of Indian Americans had been contacted by the Democratic party in 2020 compared to 48% by the GOP. This is a significant increase from the 31% who had been contacted by any party in 2016 (compared to 44% of White voters and 42% of Black voters).

“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,” M.R. Rangaswami, founder of Indiaspora, said.

Asian Americans are the fastest growing racial group and Indian Americans are the fastest growing within that group , Karthick Ramakrishnan, a University of California professor and founder of AAPI Data, said. There are 4.16 million Indian Americans, 4.5 million if you count individuals who have some Indian ancestry.

This week’s survey results show foreign policy ranks lower than many domestic issues for Indian American voters. U.S. foreign policy towards Asia ranks relatively low compared to domestic issues in the minds of Indian American voters.

Education (94%), jobs and economy (92%), health care (92%) and environment ( 88%) were among the issues that this demographic thought were ‘extremely important’ or ‘very important’. Then came racial discrimination and policing reforms (both at 84%), national security (also 84%), immigration (80%) and foreign policy in Asia (66%).

Overall, 54% of Asian Americans voters (Indian, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Japanese, and Filipino) said they were voting for Mr. Biden while 30% planned to vote for Mr. Trump. Mr. Biden was favoured by all national groups except for Vietnamese Americans who preferred Mr. Trump. Indian Americans had the strongest inclination to vote for Mr. Biden relative to other Asians.

“Asian Americans saw a record high level of midterm election turnout in 2018,”​ Mr. Ramakrishnan said during the release of the Asian American Voter Survey. “With a majority saying that they are even more enthusiastic than usual about this election suggests that we will see record turnout for Asian Americans for a Presidential election in 2020.”

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