Money And Politics
The Indian American community is stolidly Democratic, an exit poll finds, debunking developing conventional wisdom in Republican circles.
The evidence seemed everywhere. There was cardiologist Zach P. Zachariah, who has pumped millions into George Bush’s political machine, beaming from Vice President Dick Cheney’s box at the Republican National Convention. Bobby Jindal stormed into the U.S. House of Representatives as the Indian American Republican lone ranger from Louisiana, the first Indian elected to Congress since Dilip Singh Saund.
The Indian American Republican Council buried the media in a flurry of press releases ballyhooing the promise of an Indian American avalanche for the GOP.
The media, both Indian and mainstream, lapped up the myth. The Indian community’s traditional and conservative values, its deeply religious inclinations and its relative affluence made it a logical GOP constituency, the argument went. Then there was ofcourse the wisdom of being attached to the winner. The GOP was on a roll.
Indian American Republicans boasted that a third to half of all Indian Americans would switch to Bush-Cheney in the 2004 elections. It was an easy myth to peddle, because mainstream exit polls, don’t segregate their data for individual Asian groups.
Except, it wasn’t true.
A just released exit poll conducted by the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund found that far from shifting to the GOP, South Asians, predominantly Indian Americans, actually solidified in the Democratic column this election cycle. By an 8 to 1 margin, South Asians are registered Democrats. 74% percent identified themselves as Democratic, the highest of any Asian group. Just 9 percent were registered Republicans and another 16 percent listed themselves as independent.
South Asians voted for John Kerry by a 10:1 margin: 90 percent for Kerry against only 9 percent for Bush, once again the highest of any Asian group. South Asians, it turns out, are more Democratic than even the strongest Democratic constituency, African Americans, 11 percent of whom voted Bush.
Indeed, South Asians across the board were more solidly Democratic and pro Kerry than any group or characteristic surveyed in voter exit polls for any candidate or party, be it age, race, gender, income, union membership, education, evangelicals, church attendance, military service, attitudes toward the war in Iraq, economy, taxes, abortion, you name it.
The AALDEF exit poll surveyed almost 11,000 Asian American voters at 87 polling sites in 23 cities in 8 states: New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Michigan, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
Conventional wisdom has been turned on its head and the media were taken for a ride by the hype of political hacks.
The poll results are also dramatic evidence of just how far removed the moneybags, who have so dominated the public discourse on Indian American politics, are from the community they profess to represent.
Star Indian American Republican fundraisers surely have the right to use their financial muscle to claim disproportionate attention from the Republican Party. That, after all, is the lure and the bane of the American political system. But they have no claim to be speaking for or on behalf of the Indian American community.
Where that community really stands is now plain and clear for all to see.