Elections

A Key Advantage in Battleground States Could Secure 2020 for Trump

The president could find himself the recipient of tens of thousands of votes from Indian American communities across the United States.

Just as they did in 2016, the mainstream media have spent months predicting that Donald Trump will be handily defeated by the presumptive Democratic nominee in November. “National” polls, the media say, show Trump ceding ground to former Vice President Joe Biden, with some polls indicating a double-digit deficit.

Recent polling conducted in key battleground states, including Florida, Virginia, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, shows that Trump possesses a key advantage in this year’s election—one that could potentially add tens of thousands of votes for the president in these vital states and secure his reelection in 2020. 

That advantage is the broad support the president enjoys among Indian American communities and, especially in these battleground states, a large number of them are likely to defect from the Democratic Party and cross over to vote for Trump.

There are approximately 4.6 million Indian Americans in the United States, and around 2.5 million potential Indian American voters in the 2020 election. In many must-win battleground states, Indian Americans comprise a substantial and potentially decisive share of the electorate: 190,000 potential voters in Florida, 120,000 in Michigan, 170,000 in Pennsylvania, 150,000 in Georgia, 110,000 in North Carolina, 165,000 in Virginia, and nearly 470,000 in Texas.

As co-chairman of the Trump Victory Indian American Finance Committee, I have seen firsthand the results of grassroots polling efforts of Indian American communities in each of these states. Quite simply, the results show that as many as 50 percent of potential Indian American voters, the vast majority of whom traditionally have voted Democratic in presidential elections, will defect from the Democratic Party and vote for President Trump. This mass defection could add tens of thousands of new Trump voters in key battleground states and could very well end up helping to secure the president’s reelection.

Trump’s support among Indian Americans is the result of at least a year of aggressive outreach on the part of the president and his campaign to bolster the historic relationship between the United States and India, and to reach out to Indian American communities within the United States on a more personal level. In September, nearly 50,000 Indian Americans attended a packed rally in Houston co-headlined by President Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Dubbed “Howdy Modi,” the event represented the largest rally ever held with a foreign leader in the United States.

Trump followed up this event with an overseas trip to India in February, culminating in a historic rally, once again co-headlined with Modi, in front of approximately 110,000 people at Sardar Patel Stadium in Ahmedabad, India’s largest cricket stadium. 

During his tour of the country, Trump and members of his family and campaign attended a ceremonial reception at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, laid a wreath at Mahatma Gandhi’s memorial site in Rajghat, and discussed trade and defense agreements in meetings with Prime Minister Modi. In early June, President Trump invited Modi to attend this year’s G7 summit, to be hosted in the United States in September.

In many ways, the U.S.-India relationship has never been stronger, and Indian American communities in the United States largely credit Trump for deepening the ties between the two countries. Just last week, White House deputy press secretary Sarah Matthews said in a statement that the president is “incredibly grateful for the widespread support he has received from the people of India and from millions of Indian Americans across the United States.”

It is not just the strengthened ties between India and the United States that have garnered the respect and the support of Indian American communities. My research team has found that majorities of Indian Americans approve of the manner in which the president has responded to the COVID-19 pandemic, and of his stewardship of the U.S. economy. 

These same potential voters also overwhelmingly oppose the looting and vandalism that have occurred throughout dozens of American cities in recent weeks and support the president’s vow to restore a measure of law and order throughout the country. In June, a mob defaced a statute of Gandhi in Washington, D.C.; White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany roundly condemned the vandalism, while President Trump himself called the agitators’ actions a “disgrace.”

Members of President Trump’s family, administration, and campaign team, including First Lady Melania Trump, Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, Donald Trump Jr., and Eric Trump, have also exhibited an extraordinary level of respect and appreciation for India. Kimberly Guilfoyle, a senior advisor to the president and the national chair of the Trump Victory Finance Committee, has been particularly effective in her outreach to Indian American communities throughout the country. Voters in these communities clearly see the enthusiasm and support shown to them by Trump and his surrogates, so much so that the topic of Trump and the U.S. presidential election pops up almost daily between Indian Americans and their families in India.

In my own conversations with colleagues and with friends, and in my research team’s findings, one trend becomes overwhelmingly clear: Indian Americans, perhaps for the first time ever, feel both acknowledged and respected by the president of the United States. The president’s historic support of the U.S.-India relationship and the Trump campaign’s sustained outreach to Indian Americans at home has resulted in increased support and rising popularity among potential Indian American voters. Come November 3, 2020, Trump could find himself the recipient of tens of thousands of votes from Indian American communities across the United States, and in particular, in the battleground states that Trump needs most to secure his reelection. 

This advantage in the battleground states could very well be the factor that carries Trump triumphantly across the finish line in November; though Trump could, of course, carry each of the battleground states by comfortable margins without them.