President Donald Trump continues to receive poor marks from a majority of Americans on his overall job performance, even as he enjoys relatively good assessments of his handling of the economy. However, among the Indian American voters, his approval ratings are overwhelmingly low.
A new study jointly conducted by AAPI Data and APIA Vote says, two out of three Indian American voters disapproved of the way Trump was handling his role as president; 28 percent said they approved of the president’s performance, while 4 percent said they did not know, according to the survey.
According to 2016 data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, there are over 3.4 million people of Indian origin in the United States. Indian Americans are part of the wider Asian-American community, which is the fastest growing ethnic group in the United States.
The 10 states with the largest Indian-American communities are California, New York, New Jersey, Texas, Illinois, Florida, Virginia, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. These states account for 73% of our nation’s Indian American population.
Indian Americans are expected to play key role in crucial elections around the country to the Congress and Senate races. Indian American voters could play decisive roles in these races and others around the nation that are similarly tight, and so it would behoove political candidates to engage more substantively with this vibrant and diverse community.
According to a 2014 Pew Research Center study, nearly two-thirds of Indian Americans surveyed identified with the Democratic Party. A post-2016 survey by researchers in California and Maryland found that 77% of Indian American respondents supported Hillary Clinton.
The Asian American Voter Survey was released Oct. 9, as voters in 34 states — including California, Florida, Texas, and New Jersey, home to large populations of Indian Americans — began receiving ‘no-excuse’ early voting ballots. Election Day is Nov. 6; several states, including California and New York, mandate that employers must provide at least two hours of paid time off for employees to go vote.
Senate races in Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Missouri, and Nevada are ranked as toss-ups, and candidates there cannot afford to leave votes on the table. The Indian origin populations in these states range from 11,121 in Nevada to 143,020 in Florida. (Speaking of Florida, I voted there in 2000, when George W. Bush’s official margin of victory over Al Gore was 537 votes.)
Among House races considered competitive, several congressional districts are located in counties with substantial Indian American populations. In California alone, these include San Joaquin (17,797), Los Angeles (88,505), Ventura (12,342), and Orange (50,286) counties. Beyond California, Indian Americans are heavily represented in the toss-up 32nd congressional district of Texas, which encompasses Dallas (49,975) and Collin (47,673) counties, and they comprise nearly eight percent of the total population of Loudoun County, Virginia, which sits in that state’s potentially flippable 10th congressional district.
Asian Americans could be the margin of victory in several significant races, stated Indian Americans Karthick Ramakrishnan, founder of AAPI Data, and Shekar Narasimhan, chairman and founder of the AAPI Victory Fund. According to survey results, almost two-thirds of Indian Americans will vote for Democratic candidates in House and Senate races.
“Trump has galvanized the mid-term election,” said Ramakrishnan, professor of public policy and political science at the University of California, Riverside, and founding director of the Center for Social Innovation He noted that the president’s rhetoric on a range of issues collide with the views of most Asian American voters. Many view the mid-term election as a referendum on the Trump administration and a possible opportunity for Democrats to take back their majority in the Senate.
Narasimhan said both Democratic and Republican parties have been slow to recognize the impact of the Asian American vote, and have not significantly reached out to the community. Ramakrishnan noted that Indian Americans emerged as the most progressive Asian American community on a range of social issues, including access to health care, quality education, and gun control. “The Indian American agenda goes well beyond immigration,” he said, adding that few respondents listed immigration in their top three issues of concern, though they are likely to factor in a candidate’s views of immigration policy in their voting decisions.
The study surveyed 1,316 Asian American voters from Aug. 23 to Oct. 4, critically before Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation process gripped the nation. A total of 227 Indian American registered voters responded to the poll, which also included Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Vietnamese, and Korean American voters. The full report and slide deck can be viewed at http://aapidata.com/2018-