Immigrants and US Elections: Race, Religion, and Indian American Partisan Identities

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 17:30
Oral Presentation
Prema KURIEN, Syracuse University, USA
How might religious identity interact with national identity to shape the partisan politics of immigrants? This paper draws on primary and secondary material to describe and explain the voting patterns of most Indian Americans (overwhelmingly Democratic despite the fact that a large proportion claim to be independent without a strong partisan affiliation), and discussions about the reasons for the partisan identities of some prominent Indian American politicians. Drawing on my interviews with 17 Democratic activists, 9 Republican activists, as well as media interviews with other activists, I then discuss how and why some Indian Americans become activists for one party versus the other. I show how race and religion (in addition to national origin) interact with each other to shape these patterns, sometimes working together, and sometimes in opposing ways. These factors have been shaping the mobilization of Indian American partisan activists in interesting ways in the national elections, beginning from 2000. I conclude with a discussion of Indian American mobilization around the 2016 elections and in the early period of the Trump administration.