The rise of the Indian American candidate

The rise of the Indian American candidate

How Kamala Harris and a new generation are changing the face of politics

By Swetha KannanSandhya Kambhampati and Rahul Mukherjee

In a sign of the group’s growing sway, more Indian Americans than ever are running for Congress.

In the last six years, nearly 80 candidates made it on the ballot, soaring far beyond numbers seen in past elections. Leading the wave are successful candidates from California, like Kamala Harris, who rose from a Senate seat to become vice president.

Thanks to a long-standing immigration pipeline to the U.S., Indian Americans have become one of the country’s fastest growing ethnic groups. Their numbers have increased five times over since the 1990s and make up 1.3% of the U.S. population.

No state has more than California, which is home to more than 800,000 people of Indian descent. Voters in the state have elected four Indian Americans to the U.S. House and Senate, more than all other states combined.

Unlike other Asian groups that are mostly concentrated on the West Coast, Indian Americans have increasingly spread out across the country. As their numbers grow, their political power is strengthening and more Indians are appearing on the ballot in the Midwest and the South.

“We have roots in almost every part of this country,” said Rep. Ro Khanna, a Democrat elected to represent parts of the Bay Area in 2016.

Khanna, a son of immigrants who grew up in the Philadelphia suburbs, said Indians can be found all across the country in part due to professionals in medicine, education and technology moving to areas where their skills are in high demand.

The result is that many Indian Americans live in swing states where their vote may be vital in a closely contested election. Sara Sadhwani, an assistant professor of politics at Pomona College, points to races like last year’s crucial elections in Georgia, where President Biden and two Democratic Senate candidates narrowly won. High turnout in the Atlanta area was key to the victory. The area is home to more than 125,000 Indian Americans who lean Democratic and Sadhwani says contributed to the party’s victory.

This isn’t about becoming an engineer or a doctor,” said Bera. “It’s also about how can you get to the table. And how can we bring the values of our communities into this broader conversation.”

Read the rest @


Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *