How do the Indian American presidential hopefuls fare in the 2024 polls?
With a year before 2024, they are far behind Republican leader and former President Donald Trump. It is noteworthy that Trump has a significant lead over other contenders, which could make the race more competitive and exciting. No one said they would win the presidential nomination from their parties, as the gap between them and Trump was vast. Ultimately, Trump and President Biden will be chosen as the official candidates.
Knowing they have slim chances of winning, why did the three Indian Americans throw their hats in the Presidential ring?
First, their bid had skyrocketed their political profile, whether they win or lose. Their names are better known nationally.
Second, though they are polling far behind former President Donald Trump, Haley and Ramaswamy represent the growing political influence of American Indian descent.
Thirdly, the Indian diaspora has become a robust and influential community in countries like the U.S., U.K., and Australia. They have emerged as a powerful lobby in Congress and society.
Fourthly, there was a time when Indian Americans were satisfied with giving hefty donations to Political parties. Of late, they have realized where the power lies and try to become candidates.
Fifthly, Kamala Harris and Nikky Hailey have already established themselves, and Vivek Ramaswamy has emerged just now. All three are children of immigrants and were raised in the U.S.
Some sections of the Indian Diaspora continue to support, fund, and engage in American politics. There has been some attention and pride regarding the three candidates. During her presidential campaign, Hailey said, “I am the proud daughter of Indian immigrants. Neither Black nor White; I was different.”
Kamala Harris has already broken the glass ceiling and become the first woman Vice-President. Kamala’s mother, Shyamala, came from Tamil Nadu.
Hailey is known for many firsts — the first Asian American woman to serve as governor in U.S. history, the first Indian American member of a presidential Cabinet, and the first woman seeking the GOP nomination. Hailey boasts impressive foreign policy experience amid the conflict in Ukraine and the war between Israel and Hamas.
Kamala Harris and Ramaswamy are South Indians, and Haley has a Punjabi heritage. They are a source of pride for their respective communities in India. When Kamala Harris became the vice president in 2020, Tamil Nadu burst crackers and celebrated the event.
The parents of the first major Indian American presidential candidate, former Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, came in 1971. Hailey and earlier Bobby Jindal, both of Indian origin, became Governors and made a significant impact. While Jindal had faded away, Nikki still makes the news.
A former South Carolina governor and later U.N. ambassador for Trump, Haley generally aligns with the party’s traditional establishment. The five Indian American members of Congress make up slightly less than their share of the population. There are no current senators or governors of Indian descent.
According to the Migration Policy Institute, in 1960, there were only 12,000 Indian immigrants residing in the United States. However, today, census data reveals that the number has increased significantly to more than 4 million. Indian Americans comprise about 1.3% of the country’s population and have become prominent members of both major political parties. Although the Republican Party may not be able to win over the Indian diaspora in America, even slight gains could be significant in closely contested states.
Kamala Harris, who was hoping to succeed, is now reconciled as Biden’s running mate. Haley and Ramaswamy have 6 per cent and 5 per cent support, respectively. The political parties are yet to announce their candidates officially.
In 2020, Indian Americans voted over 74 per cent for Biden compared to 15 per cent who voted for Trump. The PEW found similar results, with 68 per cent of Indians identifying or leaning toward the Democratic Party compared with 29 per cent who leaned Republican.
The Sangh Parivar’s overseas outfit in the U.S. has existed since the 1960s. Prime Ministers Vajpayee and Modi helped organize NRIs with facilities. First-generation Indian immigrants were highly educated, became skilled in the labour force, and affluent through hard work. According to ABC News, they were allowed into the U.S. Indian Americans now have a median household income of nearly $142,000, according to the census. It is double the average.
Haley and Ramaswamy wanted Trump to consider them as his running mates. They positioned themselves in a way that wouldn’t rule out this possibility.
Even if Nikki Haley fails to become the first woman Republican nominee, this election will mark yet another first for her as it will be the first election she has ever lost. Ramaswamy has a new political profile that will help him later.
Overall, the confidence of the three candidates is also the story of the rising Indian Diaspora. Whether they win or lose in 2024, they will make news. They will someday achieve their American dream.