Indian Americans overwhelmingly prefer Obama, but neither candidate yet to woo them

President Barack Obama

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Indian Americans, which form part of the broader Asian American group, overwhelmingly favor President Barack Obama and the Democratic party over Republican hopeful Mitt Romney and his party, according to a recent survey.

The first-ever poll of Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI), which includes Indian Americans, reveals that 85 percent of Indian Americans favor Obama, while a meager 23 percent prefer Romney, the projected Republican nominee. On the question of Obama vs. Romney, the ratio was a staggering 76 to 8 in favor of Obama.

Although 76 percent of Indian Americans consider the state of the current US economy to be poor, 63 percent rated the performance of President Obama as excellent, according to the poll conducted by Lake Research Partners.

Commenting on the rise of AAPI, Toby Chaudhuri, Board Chair, APIAVote, said, “There’s an unprecedented amount of political activity happening within the community and outside the formal campaigns. Activists are building a movement to force changes that might otherwise never take place.”

There is a sharp increase in the “popularity and strength, institutional capacity and political sophistication,” of AAPI voters, said Chaudhuri, adding, “They’re enjoying an expanded coalition and witnessing an exciting new generation of leaders who are transforming America’s political debate, putting forward new priorities to fix our troubled economy.”

Regarding two significant and controversial issues, 60 percent of Indian Americans preferred the immigration policy of the Democratic Party and 77 percent favored the Democratic position on health care.

Indian Americans were 52 percent more enthusiastic about voting this year than in previous elections, while 92 percent said they were “almost certain” to vote in the upcoming November 6 presidential elections. Though the group is expected to participate in record numbers this fall, Indian Americans voters await direct engagement by the 2012 presidential candidates and their parties.

When questioned whether they had been contacted by either party, 67 percent said, “not at all” by Democrats, while 79 percent had not been contacted by Republicans.

Pollster Celinda Lake sounded a word of caution for both Democrats and Republicans saying, “Presidential candidates and political parties ignore Asian American voters at their own peril.”

Urging the parties to take advantage of the deciding swing voters, especially in important states, Lake said, “While Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders seem to prefer Democratic candidates, many don’t really know the differences between Democrats and Republicans, because they haven’t been engaged by either party. There’s a real opportunity there to define the debate.”

The poll counted more than 1,100 AAPI voters as respondents and the first-ever poll of AAPI voter attitudes shows that close elections in important states like Florida, Nevada, and Virginia could go to the candidate who best engages AAPIs, a demographic with increasing political clout.

Noting the importance of AAPI voters, APIAVote interim executive director Christine Chen said, “Every vote counts, especially in a tight election. If AAPIs vote at the same level they did last time, it could mean increasing margins for the party they prefer — 47,000 more votes in Virginia than last election, 33,000 more in Florida, and 9,000 more in Nevada.”

“Political leaders must engage this rapidly growing voting bloc in the conversation,” said Chen.

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