AMAC Exclusive – By Shane Harris
While Republicans have devoted significant energy in recent years (with great success) toward making inroads with Hispanic voters, Indian Americans are also becoming a more powerful force in state and national elections that could prove decisive for the GOP.
In total, there are more than 4.4 million Indian Americans currently living in the U.S., making them the second largest group of Asian immigrants after Chinese Americans (5.4 million). Immigration from India to the United States has increased dramatically in recent decades, and only looks set to accelerate more in the years ahead.
Much like Hispanic voters, Indian Americans historically have voted heavily Democrat. In 2020, 74 percent voted for Joe Biden – a proportion even higher than that of voters from other South Asian nations. But there are nonetheless some promising signs that Indian Americans could become an important part of a more diverse Republican coalition.
For starters, high-profile figures of Indian descent within the Republican Party could make the GOP more attractive to Indian voters. Of the four Republicans who have declared their candidacy for president in 2024, two – Vivek Ramaswamy and Nikki Haley – are Indian.
To be sure, Haley and Ramaswamy appear to have little chance of securing the nomination, particularly with the recent surge in the polls by former President Donald Trump.
Some analysts, however, have suggested that Ramaswamy’s bid is actually intended as an effort to raise his own profile in an attempt to secure a high-ranking spot in a potential second Trump administration, as Ramaswamy has been unusually laudatory of the former president for someone who is supposed challenging the 45th president. At just 37 years old, it seems likely that the multi-millionaire entrepreneur will be relevant in Republican politics for some time.
Haley has been more willing to criticize Trump, but her candidacy too may yet be a stepping stone for future opportunities. She has put her heritage front and center in her campaign, saying that she is the “proud daughter of Indian immigrants” in the very first line of her announcement video.
Before serving as Trump’s UN Ambassador from 2017-2018, Haley also served two terms as Governor of South Carolina, becoming the second governor of Indian descent after Bobby Jindal of Louisiana – another Republican.
Demographically, Indian Americans at first glance seem like a natural fit for the new direction of the Democrat Party, which is becoming wealthier and better educated. Indians are by far the most educated group of people in the United States, being more than three times more likely to have a college degree than the general population. They also have an income level more than double that of the average American, and are significantly overrepresented in fields like medicine and engineering.
However, those same factors may also be driving Indian Americans toward the GOP.
Take, for example, the case of Thomas Jefferson High School in Virginia, routinely ranked the top secondary school in the country. In 2021, the school came under fire for its new woke “equity” admissions policy, which replaced merit-based admissions with a racial quota system.
As a result, Asian American students – including many Indian students – saw their chances of earning admission artificially reduced through no fault of their own. Asra Nomani, a former Georgetown professor, Indian immigrant, and parent of a Thomas Jefferson student, became the public face of the fight to reverse the policy, an effort that was ultimately successful last February.
Democrats’ war on merit is just one part of the far-left agenda that many Indian Americans have taken issue with. The riots that gripped much of the country in 2020 led to the destruction of hundreds of minority-owned businesses, including many owned by Indian Americans. Indian Americans are also more family oriented and more likely to get married – two institutions that the left is actively seeking to destroy.
Former President Donald Trump clearly recognized the political importance of the growing Indian American population, as was evidenced through his outreach to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi – a move that made good diplomatic as well as political sense. Trump hosted Modi in 2019 for a “Howdy Modi” rally in Houston, Texas, that drew 50,000 cheering Indian Americans. During the event, Trump touted U.S. investments in India and closer bilateral cooperation. A few months later in February 2020, Modi rolled out the red carpet for Trump at a massive “Namaste Trump” rally in India that drew 110,000 spectators.
Thus far, the political fruit of this outreach has been slow to ripen. But as the Democrat Party descends further and further into woke insanity, and as Republicans increasingly recognize the importance of this growing demographic, Indian Americans could soon become a vital force within the GOP.
Shane Harris is a writer and political consultant from Southwest Ohio. You can follow him on Twitter @Shane_Harris_.