The survey finds that Obama has a strong support from most sections of the Asian-American community, with the strongest endorsement coming from the Indian-American community in which 70 per cent of the respondents had a favorable opinion of the President and 63 per cent approve of the job that he is doing. At least 68 per cent Indian-Americans have a favorable opinion of Obama’s Democratic Party, but only 30 per cent have a favorable opinion of the Republican Party. Vietnamese-Americans had the lowest levels of favorability of Obama (40 per cent) and the Democratic Party (34 per cent). Korean-Americans and Vietnamese-Americans reported the highest levels of support (52 per cent and 45 per cent, respectively) for the Republican Party. Indian-Americans have shown a “strong tilt” towards the Democratic Party for many years now and this support has only grown stronger over time, said Karthick Ramakrishnan, director of AAPIData, who conducted the survey research and analysis.
The factors behind Indian-American support for the Democrats include the community’s experiences with discrimination and religious identity. “Indian-Americans are least likely to be Christian and to the extent that the religion plays a role in politics in the US, just as Jewish Americans are likely to be strong Democrats the same also holds true for Indian-Americans,” said Ramakrishnan. Ramakrishnan credits former President Bill Clinton’s outreach to and fundraising in the Asian American community during the 1990s for growing support for the Democratic Party among Asians in the US.
The racial profiling that followed the 9/11 attacks on the US under a Republican administration and the conservative rhetoric on immigration resulted in Indian Americans turning less sympathetic to the Republican Party. Yet two Indian-American Republicans – Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley – are the highest Indian-American elected officials in the US today. “It is a divergence between who the most prominent Indian-American elected officials are, who are Republicans, and where Indian-American voters are, which is pretty strongly Democrat,” said Ramakrishnan. He attributes Jindal’s and Haley’s rise to their religion. Both are Christian. “The extent to which Indian Americans feel a connection to the two is limited by religion and their conservative positions,” he said.