Indian American voters overwhelmingly disapprove of President Donald Trump’s record at the White House, revealed a new study jointly conducted by AAPI Data and APIA Vote.
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.
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.
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, in interviews with India-West.
“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.
Get Out the Vote efforts target people who are on voter rolls, which consist of people who have previously voted, known as “high propensity voters,” explained Narasimhan. Campaigns spend a lot less money reaching out to “low propensity voters,” he told India-West, noting that candidates must reach out to prospective voters in culturally-sensitive ways, including campaign materials in several different languages.
He noted that the mid-term election is a watershed moment for Asian Americans. “We’re fighting right now for our own rights, rights we thought we already had. We’re fighting to maintain those rights.”
According to survey results, almost two-thirds of Indian Americans will vote for Democratic candidates in House and Senate races.
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.
Notably, 72 percent of Indian American voters support a pathway to citizenship for undocumented residents. Two-thirds of Indian Americans support health care for all immigrants, regardless of legal status.
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.
Seventy percent of Indian American respondents said they viewed the Democratic Party favorably; 36 percent said they viewed the Republican Party favorably, while 54 percent did not. A small but significant percentage of Indian American respondents said they had no opinion on either party.
Interestingly, respondents gave more credit to Republicans on taxes, national security, and the overall health of the economy, while viewing the party unfavorably on social issues.
Ramakrishnan noted there is a high level of voter enthusiasm for the mid-term election: 62 percent of Indian American voters said they were more excited to vote this year than in previous elections.
The survey also polled respondents on favorability of possible candidates for the 2020 presidential race. Surprisingly, Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vermont, was the overwhelming favorite amongst Indian Americans: 72 percent said they viewed him favorably. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-California, received a more muted response: 52 percent said they viewed her favorably. Surprisingly, 20 percent of Indian American respondents said they had not heard of Harris, who is serving her first term in the Senate; 26 percent viewed her unfavorably, while 20 percent said they did not know.
Republican John Kasich, who is widely rumored to be considering a 2020 presidential bid, was viewed favorably by a third of Indian Americans.
The full report and slide deck can be viewed at: http://aapidata.com/2018-survey/