Many Indians naturally focus on the very warm relationship between President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi and are very surprised to learn that most Indian Americans vote for the Democrats. In a short piece published by This Week, a magazine based in Kerala, India, I explain that and some of the reasons why.
Right now, the world is headed into full panic mode because the four post-Republican Convention polls released today show Trump up by an average of 2.5 points. I can’t say I blame people for panicking. The very idea that Trump could become president is a manifest danger to the country.
Democrats are nonetheless well-positioned to win this election based on fundamental trends that Trump shows no sign of defying despite his unconventional campaign of fear and outright lies via Twitter and the free media.
Today, I focus on Asian American voters, who receive little media attention despite being a very fast growing part of the electorate and dramatic shifts in their partisan preferences.
While Trump focuses on Latinos crossing the Rio Grande, even though more now head south than north, Asian Americans became the largest immigrant group in America around 2009, as this graph from the Pew Research Center shows:
Due to starting from a small base, Asian Americans are a very fast growing component of the electorate. Despite the barriers of citizenship and low turnout rates, Asian Americans are quickly becoming a electoral “force,” as this graph from polling firm Asian American Decisions (part of the Latino Decisions group) reveals:
The other fast-growing portion of the electorate is Latino voters, while the share of whites shrink in each presidential election.
It has attracted almost virtually no public notice but Asian Americans have shifted their voting behavior dramatically since 1992. Asian Americans voted strongly Republican 24 years ago but have voted more Democratic in every election since, shifting from roughly 30% to over 70% Democratic.
No one thinks this election will alter the trend. Indeed, it will reinforce it. The same virulent anti-immigrant rhetoric that is now the hallmark of the Trump campaign and the Republican Party alienates Asian Americans just like it does Latinos. Recall Jeb Bush’s infamous explanation that his attack on “anchor babies” was directed at Asians, not Latinos:
It’s hardly limited to Jeb Bush with Trump’s attacks on China and Japan accompanied by his imitations of devious, broken English speaking Asian businessmen:
Trump likes to attack Indian call centers as part of his anti-Asian spiel, which contrasts directly with President Obama’s deepening of American relations with India, a large and rising power:
Trump has also attacked South Korea on trade and for freeloading off of America’s military:
As we now know, these aren’t oopsy-daisies but part of Trump’s longstanding pattern and deliberate campaign choice.
Weak support for Trump among college-educated Americans will only reinforce this trend. While education levels vary dramatically among Asian American individuals and by national origin, Pew reported in 2010 that a higher share of Asian Americans were either in college or had received a college degree than for any other racial group.
1. Asian Americans will once again make up a higher share of the electorate than in the last presidential election. Pew reports that the share of Asian American voters will be up by 16% compared to 2012, as compared to just 2% for whites.
2. The unrelenting Republican attacks on immigrants and trade with Asian countries will likely result in record Democratic support, the continuation of a steady trend over the past two decades.
Looking to the future, George Will observes that Asian Americans could help turn Texas blue sooner than realized.
The following is a press release from the Barve campaign:
ASIAN AMERICAN LEADERS UNITE BEHIND BARVE
Members of Congress, Maryland Leaders Endorse Congressional Campaign
Rockville, November 5, 2015 – Kumar Barve for Congress announced today the endorsement of Asian Congressional and Maryland leaders for his campaign for Congress.
“Kumar Barve is a leader in the innovation and technology sectors and is a proven job creator. He is a fighter for the middle class and working families,” said U.S. Rep. Ami Bera (D-CA). “His family history is the American immigrant success story and I would welcome him as a partner in Congress”.
“The AAPI community is united behind Kumar Barve in Maryland”, stated U.S. Rep. Grace Meng. “Kumar is a fighter for social justice. AAPIs are underrepresented in Congress and Delegate Barve has been a long been a national leader in promoting and protecting the civic and political rights of the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities”.
“Kumar Barve rose through the Montgomery County Public School system to become a groundbreaking leader in our community. His story – from his grandfather’s fight for citizenship to his historic election as the first Indian American state legislator – is our story” said Delegate Aruna Miller, who represents state legislative District 15 which is included with the 8th Congressional District. “Kumar has been a great mentor to those of us who have followed in his path”.
Barve is one the headliners tonight of the Maryland Democratic Party’s Mid-Autumn and Diwali Celebration in Gaithersburg that will gather AAPI leaders throughout the state. AAPIs, comprising about 8-9% of the population, represent a growing and increasingly active community within the 8th District of Maryland. Since his historic election in 1990, Barve has worked to increase the participation of the AAPI community in the civic and political life of their communities.
List of Endorsements
U.S. Rep. Ami Bera (D-CA)
U.S. Rep. Madeline Bordallo (D-GU)
U.S. Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA)
U.S. Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA)
U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY)
Norman Mineta, former U.S. Secretary of Transportation and Member of Congress
Maryland Delegate Mark Chang
Maryland Delegate Clarence Lam
Maryland Delegate Aruna Miller
Maryland Delegate Kriselda Valderrama
Virginia Delegate Mark Keam
Alan Cheung, former Member, Montgomery County Board of Education
Ed Chow, former MD Secretary of Veterans Affairs
Rajan Natarajan, former MD Deputy Secretary of State
Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus Leadership PAC
Asian American Action Fund