Indian Americans Rapidly Climbing Political Ranks

Indian Americans Rapidly Climbing Political Ranks

By Maggie Astor and Jill Cowan

In 2013, the House of Representatives had a single Indian American member. Fewer than 10 Indian Americans were serving in state legislatures. None had been elected to the Senate. None had run for president. Despite being one of the largest immigrant groups in the United States, Americans of Indian descent were barely represented in politics.

Ten years later, the Congress sworn in last month includes five Indian Americans. Nearly 50 are in state legislatures. The vice president is Indian American. Nikki Haley’s campaign announcement this month makes 2024 the third consecutive cycle in which an Indian American has run for president, and Vivek Ramaswamy’s newly announced candidacy makes it the first cycle with two.

In parts of the government, “we’ve gone literally from having no one to getting close to parity,” said Neil Makhija, the executive director of Impact, an Indian American advocacy group.

Most Indian American voters are Democrats, and it is an open question how much of their support Ms. Haley might muster. In the past, when Indian Americans have run as Republicans, they have rarely talked much about their family histories, but Ms. Haley is emphasizing her background.

Activists, analysts and current and former elected officials, including four of the five Indian Americans in Congress, described an array of forces that have bolstered the political influence of Indian Americans.

The 2024 cycle reflects huge strides in representation: A decade ago, “it was inconceivable that someone named Raj Goyle — let alone Rajeev Goyle — would run for office in Wichita,” said Mr. Goyle, a former Kansas lawmaker.

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