Over 70 per cent of registered Indian American voters plan to vote for Joe Biden in next month’s US presidential election, according to the 2020 Indian American Attitude Survey (IAAS), and only 22 per cent of the rest will vote for Donald Trump.
The data, based on responses from 936 Indian Americans surveyed online in the first 20 days of September, also says “in line with past studies… members of the community continue to strongly identify with the Democratic Party”; 56 per cent of respondents said they identified as a Democrat, while only 15 per cent saw themselves as Republican.
Indian Americans also, the report adds, do not consider the US-India relationship to be a big factor in their voting decision – something that is likely to run against President Donald Trump, who has stressed on his close ties with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and claimed “great support from India” in a bid to win over the community.
In any case, according to the survey, most Indian Americans believe the Democrats do a better job of managing US-India ties.
Meanwhile, Mr Trump’s Democrat challenger Mr Biden’s vice presidential pick – Senator Kamala Harris, the first Black woman and American of Indian and African descent to get the ticket – has “galvanised” the Indian American community in favour of the Democrats, the report said.
In August, Ms Harris, a junior senator from California, made headlines across India after talking about her mother (Shyamala Gopalan) and mentioning her fondness for idli and masala dosa.
The Indian American vote – the second-largest immigrant group in the US – is in the spotlight even though the community represents less than one per cent of registered US voters.
Increased support for Mr Trump was expected by the Republicans, particularly after widely-covered and lavish visits were exchanged between him and Prime Minister Narendra Modi; Mr Trump visited in February while PM Modi’s “Howdy Modi!” event in Houston was in September last year.
News agency Reuters reported that “speculation” said the community may not favor Mr Biden as he may be tougher on India on issues such as human rights and civil liberties that activists say are increasingly at risk under PM Modi.
But, according to the report’s authors, “the big takeaway is that there is scant evidence for… popular narratives (that indicate) widespread defection of Democratic voters toward Trump”
“There is little evidence of a significant evolution in partisan allegiances since 2016. The vast majority (91 per cent) of Indian Americans who voted for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in 2016 plan to support Biden in 2020,” the authors said.
Instead, voters who were polled listed the economy and healthcare as their top two concerns in the lead-up to the vote. U.S.-India ties were near the bottom of the list.
Among the survey’s other findings is this interesting note – that although Indian Americans of all faiths prefer Mr Biden to Mr Trump, support for the Democrat candidate is significantly stronger from Muslims (82 per cent) than Hindus (67 per cent).
The Christian community, meanwhile, leans more toward Mr Trump, with 45 per cent of the respondents preferring the Republican as American President, whose health condition following hospitalisation for a COVID-19 infection has also made headlines.
Indian American men and women both prefer Mr Biden to Mr Trump, and by considerable margins. Sixty-nine per cent of women and 68 per cent of men intend to vote for the Democrat, while just 19 per cent of women and 24 per cent of men plan to vote for Mr Trump.
The survey was a collaboration between the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Johns Hopkins-SAIS, and the University of Pennsylvania.
The United States will vote for a new president – the first national election since the coronavirus pandemic swept the world – early next month.
Early voting for the election has already begun and, according to a report by CNBC, these have “smashed” 2016 levels amid concern over following social distancing norms during regular voting.
The CNBC report states that over 10.6 million Americans have already cast their votes (it is unknown how many Indian Americans have) with Democrats holding a strong early lead.