From the media coverage of Donald Trump's popularity amongst Hindu nationalists, it may seem that he has found major ethnic backing amongst Indian Americans.
However, the National Asian American Survey, in its 5 October report, found only 7% Indian American voters are likely to vote for the Republican nominee. By contrast, 67% said they would vote for Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee.
This was the lowest support Trump got amongst Asian communities. While the Hmong community also had the same 7% support for Trump, 25% Filipinos, 20% Japanese, 16% Cambodians and Vietnamese said they would vote Trump. At 11%, even the Chinese had more likely Trump voters than Indians.
The survey was carried out between 10 August and 29 September, when Trump's ratings were still ahead of Clinton's. Since the revelations of Trump's attitudes towards women, he has begun trailing Clinton. It is likely that his support amongst Asian Americans, including Indians, has fallen even further.
The survey was carried out between 10 August and 29 September, when Trump's ratings were still ahead of Clinton's.
Even after excluding undecided voters, only 9% Indian Americans said they'd vote Trump. In the primaries, only 7% Indian Americans surveyed said they voted Trump. Hillary Clinton was reported to have won 60% of their votes, and Bernie Sanders another 23%.
On favourability, 67% Indians gave Trump a very unfavourable rating, and another 12% ticked the somewhat unfavourable option. For Hillary, 70% Indian Americans found her to be very or somewhat favourable, only slightly less than the 77% favourable rating they gave Barack Obama.
The All-Important H1B Visa
Indians are the second largest Asian group in the US. Of all Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, Indians are 19%, exceeded only by the Chinese, who are 23%.
It is understandable why Indian Americans are shying away from Trump. His rhetoric is not just anti-Muslim but also anti-immigrant. Trump has particularly opposed the number of H1B employment visas given to immigrants. He has accused Hillary Clinton of having ties with Indian infotech companies who "stole" American jobs. Indians are amongst the largest beneficiaries of H1B visas.
Trump's anti-immigrant rhetoric is also why the Republican party's traditional vote base amongst Asians, the Vietnamese, are shying away from him.
Even apart from Trump's candidacy, Indian Americans identify themselves a lot more with Democrats than Republicans. The identification of Indian Americans with the Democrats over Republicans is higher than any other Asian group, except the Hmong Americans. Only 13% Indian Americans identify themselves with Republicans, 71% as Democrats and 18% as purely independent.
More Progressive Than The Rest
The survey also found Indian Americans to be more progressive than most other Asian communities.
No other Asian community opposes Trump's idea of banning the Muslim community into the US as much as Indians. Only 11% Indians supported the idea, and 78% opposed it. Over all, 62% of those surveyed opposed the idea. The largest support for banning Muslims came from Cambodians (37%) and Vietnamese (31%) Americans.
Only 11% Indians opposed greater federal assistance to pay for college tuition, as opposed to the 23% average amongst all Asian Americans.
On the issue of racial justice -- the American government doing more for the rights of the Black community -- only 8% Indian Americans opposed the idea, as compared to 22% Filipinos and 21% Chinese.
On climate change, again only 8% opposed stricter emission limits on power plants, as opposed to the total 12% average amongst 8 Asian communities. On marijuana legalization, 48% favoured it, as opposed to the average 36%. A majority of them also favoured of the US accepting Syrian refugees. While 55% Indian Americans supported the idea, the average for all Asian communities was 44%.
Trump, however, is trying to increase his outreach amongst Indian Americans by identifying himself with India's Hindu nationalist prime minister, Narendra Modi, whose Bhartiya Janata Party is seen as being anti-Muslim.