48% Indians in US support Modi, but 22% to vote ‘American Modi’ Trump, says survey
Donald Trump, is unlikely to get more than 22% of Indian Americans votes in the November 3 US polls, with his rival, Joe Biden, likely to get 72% of the votes
A US think-tank study has said that even though Prime Minister Narendra Modi still enjoys considerable support among Indian diaspora in the country – 48% of Indian Americans approve of Modi’s performance, 32 percent disapprove, while 20% have “no opinion” – the man often dubbed as American Modi, Donald Trump, is unlikely to get more than 22% of their votes in the November 3 US polls, with his rival, Joe Biden, likely to get 72% of the votes.
Carried out by Sumitra Badrinathan, an advanced PhD student in political science at the University of Pennsylvania; Devesh Kapur, Professor of South Asian Studies and director of Asia Programs at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies; and Milan Vaishnav, Director, South Asian Programme, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the study says, ironically, “Those who disapprove of Trump are roughly equally split on Modi: 41 percent of those who disapprove of Trump approve of Modi, while 38 percent disapprove of him.”
Insisting that “recent anecdotal narratives notwithstanding, there is scant evidence that Democratic voters are defecting toward Trump and the Republican Party”, the study says, “Indian Americans do not consider US-India relations to be one of the principal determinants of their vote choice in this election”, adding, “Economy and healthcare are the two most important issues influencing” their “vote choice.”
According to the study, “Even though Indian Americans comprise slightly more than 1% of the total US population – and less than 1% of all registered voters – both major parties are leaving no stone unturned in reaching out to this community.” Thus, if “Biden’s campaign issued a manifesto specifically aimed at Indian American voters”, as Trump’s campaigners “recently shared an online advertisement wooing Indians in America with images of Trump and Modi sharing the stage at a massive rally in Houston in September 2019.”
The study believes, the Democratic choice of Kamala Harris as vice presidential candidacy has especially “galvanized a large section of the Indian American community”, pointing out, 45% of respondents indicated that Harris’s selection made them more likely to vote for Democrats, while just 10 percent indicated that it made them less likely to vote. About 40%, however, said it made “no difference either way.”
The study states, “A large section of Indian Americans view the Republican Party as unwelcoming. 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 economic policy differences with the Democrats – with particularly marked differences regarding healthcare.”
Further, 71% of respondents “either strongly or somewhat oppose” White House measures to retaliate against critical journalists. Two-thirds (67%) “oppose” efforts by law enforcement to use force against peaceful #BlackLifeMatters protesters. About 60% oppose Trump’s so-called “Muslim ban”, while 57% disapprove of “stringent action” to deport illegal immigrants.
The study is based on what it calls “a nationally representative online survey of 936 Indian American citizens conducted between September 1 and September 20, 2020, in partnership with YouGov”, claiming, it has “an overall margin of error of +/- 3.2%.” In 2018, the size of the Indian American population stood at 4.16 million, out of which 2.62 million were US citizens. The total eligible voter population is 1.9 million, or about 0.82 percent of all eligible voters in the country.
The study says, “When asked how they self-identify, 56 percent of Indian Americans report that they consider themselves Democrats, 15 percent consider themselves to be Republicans, while another 22 percent identify as independents”, adding, among those who consider themselves Democrats, 76% “identify as strong Democrats, 19% identify as not very strong Democrats, and another 10% lean toward the Democratic Party.”
On the other side, as for the Republican supporters, the study says, “Just 7% of respondents identify as strong Republicans while another 8% are not very strong Republicans and only 3% lean Republican”, adding, “All told, two-thirds of respondents (66%) tend toward the Democratic Party while 18% tend toward the Republican Party.” Around 13% of respondents “are independents who do not lean toward either party, while 4% percent are not sure of where they stand.”
As for American Indians’ ideological frame of mind, the study says, “While 29% of Indian American citizens classify themselves as moderate, a larger share of the remaining respondents place themselves on the ideological left: 11% identify as extremely liberal, 23% identify as liberal, and 13% identify as slightly liberal.” On the other hand, “The proportion of respondents situated on the right end of the ideological spectrum is much smaller: 4% identify as extremely conservative, 13% identify as conservative, and an additional 6% identify as slightly conservative.”
Interestingly, the younger generation American Indians prefer Biden over Trump. The study says, “75% of voters between the ages of 18 and 29 intend to vote for Biden; this proportion declines to 64% for ages 30 to 49, before rising again to 69% for those above the age of 50.”
Then, says the study, while Indians of all religious faiths prefer Biden to Trump, there is important caveats. “Muslim support for Biden (82%) is considerably higher than Hindu support (67%), which in turn is considerably higher than Christian support (49%). The latter community is also the most supportive of Trump (45 percent). Then “69% of women and 68% of men intend to vote for Biden, while just 19% of women and 24% of men plan to vote for Trump.”