Indian Americans could be “an absolute difference maker”, says top Democratic leader


As the 2020 US Presidential election is closing in, the heat of the campaigns on both sides are ramping up. Now is the crucial time for each candidate to target individual communities to secure their support.

At this point, it is somewhat clear where the major part of immigrant votes would go, especially with Indian Americans. In fact, a top Democratic leader said that the Indian-American community could be “an absolute difference maker” in battleground states in the November 3 presidential elections.

In less than four months to go for the elections, both the Republican and the Democratic parties are making huge efforts to reach out to the small but influential Indian-American community in some of the key battleground states such as Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Thomas Perez, chair of the Democratic National Committee, on Saturday said that Michigan has 125,000 Indian-American voters.

“We lost Michigan by 10,700 votes in 2016,” he said, referring to the loss of Hillary Clinton, the then-Democratic presidential nominee at the hands of President Donald Trump.

“In Pennsylvania, (there are) 156,000 (Indian-American voters). We (Democratic party) lost (presidential elections in) Pennsylvania by 42-43,000 (votes). In Wisconsin (there are) 37,000 (Indian-Americans). We lost Wisconsin by 21,000 (votes) in 2016,” said the head of the Democratic party.

“The Indian-American vote, the AAPI (Asian-American and Pacific Islanders) vote more broadly, can be an absolute difference maker (in the 2020 presidential elections),” Perez said at a virtual event “An Electorate Coming of Age: Indian Americans for Biden’, jointly hosted by the South Asians for Biden along with AAPI Victory Fund and Indian-American Impact Fund.

“We are hustling to the finishing line” 108 days till the weekend. Think about those three states alone that I mentioned. The Indian-American votes alone can be the difference in moving forward,” Perez said.

Shekar Narasimhan, chairman of AAPI Victory Fund, said that there are 1.3 million potential Indian-American voters in eight battleground states of Arizona (66,000), Florida (193,000), Georgia (150,000), Michigan (125,000), North Carolina (111,000), Pennsylvania (156,000), Texas (475,000) and Wisconsin (37,000).

In 2016, Narasimhan said 77 percent of the Indian-American voters polled in favor of Hillary.

“Today in all the polls and surveys, their favorability for Biden over Trump is 2.3 to one, (which) is very close to what it was then (in 2016: 2.4 to one),” he said, asserting that the party can aspire to get 75-80 percent of the Indian-American votes if they do the work.

There are 1.3 million Indian-American adult citizens, by definition, who are eligible to vote in these (eight battlegrounds) states, he said.

“It is our goal to deliver one million to actually vote in by November 3, 2020 and vote for a Democrat candidate namely for Joe Biden,” Narasimhan said, adding that the information is based on data and latest research prepared by data guru Karthik Ramakrishnan.

“There are sectors of the Indian-American community throughout our country, throughout our battleground states. And we want to make sure we’re engaging and connecting directly with you all,” senior advisor of “Biden for President’ campaign Julie Chavez Rodriguez said in her address to the event attended by over 800 Indian-Americans from across the country.

Amit Jani, the national AAPI director for the Biden campaign, said that the Indian-American community has grown in size, influence and in political and civic involvement. More Indian-Americans are joining politics and government.

“The election in November for the president is going to be historic, and we really need the help and support from the Indian-American community to really make a difference,” Jani added.