Back to contents

ELECTION NEWS: 3 Indian Americans Likely to Flip U.S. Senate and House Races

Nov/18/2020 / by Bhargavi Kulkarni
Courtesy of SEEMA Magazine’s November 2020 issue

Much more than in previous elections, swing states will play a crucial role in deterring the results of this election. The U.S. Embassy website says swing states are those that have populations that are closely divided politically. 

While the Cook Political Report sees Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin as toss-ups, a few other experts would add New Hampshire, North Carolina, Maine and Texas, among others, to the list. According to the Brookings Institution, Florida cannot be ignored in a presidential election.

“It swings between major parties — the state supported Democrat Barack Obama in 2008 and Republican George W. Bush in 2000, for instance,” it says. “The fact that the winner in the Sunshine State has won the presidency in every presidential race since 1964 lends it a special mystique.”

The key for either party to win the presidential election is to target specific swing states, also known as battleground or purple states. Both President Trump and Vice President Joe Biden have been targeting these swing states with campaign visits, advertising and staffing. In 2016, President Trump won narrowly against Hillary Clinton in North Carolina, Florida, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Arizona, helping him secure his electoral college victory. Whether Trump manages to retain these states or the Democrats flip them remains to be seen.

This year, the Indian American community has been hailed as being a powerful voting block. Despite being slightly over 1 percent of the U.S. population, their growing political clout, both as candidates running for office as well as donors, has gained attention from both parties. There are over 1.3 Indian Americans who are eligible to vote in the Nov. 3 election. 

They are expected to make a difference in several swing states that may be close in this election, as per data from a joint survey conducted by Indiaspora and Asian American Pacific Islanders (AAPI) Data, released on Sept. 15. “Indian Americans are positioned to make a difference in several swing states that may be close in this election,” the report says. “While most of the other large Asian American groups are heavily concentrated in California, Indian Americans are more dispersed across the country, and have a significant presence in several competitive districts and battleground states,” the report added. This year there are nearly 500,000 Indian American voters in the battleground states of Florida, Pennsylvania, and Michigan.

A few months before the Indiaspora and the AAPI Data survey was released, Democratic National Committee chairman, Tom Perez also stressed the importance of the Indian American vote in swing states. 

“The community could be an absolute difference maker in battleground states” in the presidential elections, Perez said during a July 18 webinar. “We lost Michigan by 10,700 votes in 2016,” he said, adding there were 125,000 Indian American votes in that state. Similarly, Perez estimated there were over 150,000 Indian American voters in Pennsylvania, which the Democrats lost in 2016 by about 43,000 votes. In Wisconsin, he said that 37,000 Indian Americans would vote in this election. The Democrats lost Wisconsin by 21,000 in 2016.

A recent YouGov poll found that 72 percent of registered Indian American voters supported Biden. By comparison, 77 percent voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016 and 84 percent for President Barack Obama in 2012. The poll also found that the number of Trump-supporting Indian Americans had grown to 22 percent, from the 16 percent who supported him in 2016.

Experts are closely watching these swing states, many of which have South Asian American candidates running for the U.S. Senate or the U.S. House of Representatives, and are among those who could flip the state from red to blue. 

Crucial among them are Sara Gideon, who is challenging embattled Republican Sen. Susan Collins in a race that could alter the balance of power in the U.S. Senate if Gideon prevails. All eyes are also on Sri Preston Kulkarni, who is running for election to the U.S. House to represent Texas’ 22nd Congressional District; and Dr. Hiral Tipirneni, a candidate for U.S. Senate from Arizona’s 6th Congressional District. Both Tipirneni and Kulkarni are on the Red to Blue list Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. The list is “a highly competitive and battle-tested program at the DCCC that arms top-tier candidates with organizational and fundraising support to help them continue to run strong campaigns.”

South Asian American candidates running for office from swing states:

ARIZONA

(U.S. CONGRESS)

Hiral Tipirneni: Running Arizona’s 6th Congressional District. Tipirneni, a physician and cancer-research advocate, is considered the favorite to win the right to challenge five-term incumbent, Rep. David Schweikert (R-Ariz).

(STATE RACES)

Amish Shah: Running for re-election to the Arizona House of Representatives to represent District 24.

(LOCAL RACES)

Dr. Ravi Grivois-Shah: Running for the TUSD Governing Board.

FLORIDA

(STATE RACES) 

Taymour Khan: Running for election to the Florida House of Representatives to represent District 7. The Democratic primary for this office on Aug. 18 was canceled.

Dushyant Gosai: Running for election to the Florida House of Representatives to represent District 34. He is on the ballot in the general election on November 3, 2020. The Democratic primary for this office on Aug. 18 was canceled.

Imtiaz Ahmad Mohammad: Running for election to the Florida House of Representatives to represent District 119. The Democratic primary for this office on Aug. 18 was canceled.

MAINE

(U.S. SENATE)

Sara Gideon: Challenging embattled Republican Sen. Susan Collins in November in a race that could alter the balance of power in the U.S. Senate if Gideon prevails. Gideon, 48, has been maintaining a lead in the opinion polls over Collins, 67, who is seeking a fifth term in office. Gideon is the daughter of immigrants. Her father is from India while her mother is a second generation Armenian. This is her fourth term in the Maine House of Representatives, and her second as speaker.

MICHIGAN

(STATE RACES)

Padma Kuppa: Running for re-election to the Michigan House of Representatives to represent District 41.

Ranjeev Puri: Running for election to the Michigan House of Representatives to represent District 21.

NORTH CAROLINA

(STATE RACES)

Ronnie Chatterji: Running for election for North Carolina treasurer.

Jay Chaudhuri: Running for re-election to the North Carolina State Senate to represent District 15.

(LOCAL RACES)

Anjali Boyd is running in the general election for Durham soil and water conservation district supervisor.

Abdul Rashid Siddiqui: Running as a Republican for election for Guilford County Register of Deeds in North Carolina.

PENNSYLVANIA

(STATE RACES)

Nina Ahmad: The Bangladeshi American woman won the Democratic primary for Pennsylvania auditor general. Ahmad, a former Philadelphia deputy mayor, prevailed over five other contenders in the elections held June 11. If elected in November, she becomes the first woman of color to serve as a state-wide executive.

Nikil Saval: Running for election to the Pennsylvania State Senate to represent District 1.

TEXAS

(U.S. CONGRESS)

Donna Imam: The Bangladeshi American is seeking to create history by unseating longtime Republican Congressman John Carter in Texas’ 31st District. If elected, she will become the first South Asian woman from Texas in the U.S. Congress.

Sri Preston Kulkarni: Running for election to the U.S. House to represent Texas’ 22nd Congressional District.

(LOCAL RACES)

Dimple Malhotra: Running in the general election for Travis County Court at Law No. 4.

Pooja Sethi for Austin City Council District 10.

Saishashishekar Krishnarajanagar: Council Place 6 in Frisco

R.K. Sandill: Running for re-election as judge of the Texas 127th District Court.

Vatsa Ramanathan: Running for re-election to the Allen Independent School District school board to represent Place 7 in Texas. Ramanathan assumed office in 2017.

Mohammed Akbar, Abdul Khabeer, and Mark Zeske: Running in the general election for Irving City Council Place 3.

Check out SEEMA Magazine’s November issue here.

You have successfully subscribed to the newsletter

There was an error while trying to send your request. Please try again.

Seema will use the information you provide on this form to be in touch with you and to provide updates and marketing.