03:42 GMT28 September 2020
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    Republicans and Democrats Clash for Funds of Wealthy Indian Americans, Professor Says

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    New Delhi (Sputnik): After the Democratic National Convention ended with former vice-president Joe Biden formally accepting the nomination last week, the Republican Convention began on 24 August, with Donald Trump again leading the GOP charge. The 2020 elections are seeing a strong presence of Indian-Americans.

    Trump’s visit to India and warm relations with Modi are often seen as an attempt to impress Indian-Americans. Cut to 2020, less than 100 days before the US Presidential Elections, and the national chair of the Trump Victory Finance Committee Kimberly Guilfoyle released a video “Four More Years” featuring Modi-Trump moments from their rallies in Houston and Ahmedabad.

    The video, with a powerful background score, captioned ‘America enjoys a great relationship with India and our campaign enjoys great support from Indian Americans!’ has Modi’s and Trump’s speeches as voice overs.

    The Republicans also have an Indian-American on their side in the form of the ex-governor of South Carolina, Nikki Haley as a star speaker for their national convention.

    At the same time, a section of Indian-Americans has been rejoicing in Democrat presidential hopeful Joe Biden’s running mate Kamala Harris’ nomination for vice-president. Kamala’s use of a Tamil word during her speech created quite stir on Twitter among the Indian diaspora. While some say that Harris downplays her Indian identity, the senator has appointed Indian-American Sabrina Singh as her press secretary.

    Meanwhile, a Silicon Valley-based Indian-American couple released a musical campaign video urging community members in the battleground states to vote for Biden.

    Indian-Americans form barely 1% of the total electorate, says Sreeram Chaulia, dean at the Jindal School of International Affairs from O.P. Jindal Global University, but he says that a lot of them are in the very high income category and could be big donors for the either party.

    He highlights that both parties raise a lot of funds from private citizens and both the Trump and Biden camps are now trying to generate large donations in the run-up to the vote.

    “Indian-Americans as Silicon Valley techies, oil and gas industry executives in Texas, Georgia and southern states and other professional categories fall under high income category, they can donate to parties. More than votes it’s their financial power that matters,” he says.

    In the 2016 election, Indian-American industrialist Shalabh "Shalli" Kumar, a Chicago-based businessman, sent $898,800 to Trump Victory, the joint fundraising arrangement between the Trump campaign, the Republican National Committee and 11 state parties.

    While right-leaning community members are continuing to support Trump, an Indian-American advocacy group, IMPACT, is donating $10 million to help increase Indian-American representation in the elections.

    The group’s executive director Neil Makhija recently wrote an opinion piece for CNN where he expressed his support for Harris by saying that Biden’s choice must bring together a racially diverse Democratic coalition that represents the future of the country.

    Importance of Battleground States

    Chaulia says that the concentration of Indian-Americans in some states has some swing value.

    “If the race is very tight, then there may be a situation where a few thousand votes make a difference, that’s why maybe they are wooing aggressively to get them on their side. Especially in battleground states like Michigan, Wisconsin, Florida, Texas, Ohio, they have relatively healthy Indian-American numbers, so potentially they add up,” he says.

    A CNN Poll of Polls last week showed Biden leading Trump by a nine-point margin nationally. Biden, who has accepted the Democratic nomination, is backed by 51% of registered voters nationwide, while 42% support Trump.

    Thomas Perez, chair of the Democratic National Committee, said the Indian-American community could be an “absolute difference maker” in the battleground states. He said there are 125,000 Indian-American voters in Michigan where they lost by 10,700 votes in 2016.

    He mentioned other states such as Pennsylvania and Wisconsin where the party lost by a few thousand votes. In 2016, 77 percent of Indian-American voters polled in favor of Hillary Clinton.

    The Early Trends

    Asian-Americans including Indian-Americans continue to lean heavily towards the Democratic Party, with 54% for Joe Biden, 29% for Donald Trump and 16% undecided.  

    Chaulia says the US has three kinds of voters where two sets are completely inclined and loyal towards the either of the parties with a third set of independents which make up between 30% and 40% of the total electorate. This includes Indian-Americans, who will vote on the basis of campaigning and relations with India. The campaigning and the advertising are aimed at this set of people, he stresses.  

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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    voters, Republicans, Democrats, Nikki Haley, Kamala Harris, US Election 2020, Joe Biden, Donald Trump, US, India
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