Indian Americans, while less than 1 percent of the US population, have contributed more than $3 million to 2020 US presidential campaigns — more than the coveted donors of Hollywood, says a report by Los Angeles Times.
On the Democratic side, they are largely split among three candidates who have ties to their community: Sen. Kamala Harris of California, whose mother was born in India; Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, a practicing Hindu; and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, who counts a large Indian American population among his constituents.
Harris, who is the only major presidential candidate with Indian heritage, has raised more than $387,000 from the Indian American community for her 2020 bid, more than any other Democrat in the race, according to a Times analysis of disclosure forms filed by the campaigns. But the senator, who is also of Jamaican descent, is not an overwhelming favorite of Democratic donors: Gabbard was a close second with more than $374,000.
Reflecting the community’s leftward tilt, two-thirds of the more than $3 million donated throughout the 2020 election cycle has gone to Democrats, according to a Times analysis of fundraising reports.
Indian Americans have also donated more than $1 million to committees supporting President Trump. The incumbent has the benefit of being able to accept six-figure checks into a joint fundraising committee with the national and state Republican parties. The Democratic candidates are limited to donations of up to $2,800 for the primary and $2,800 for the general election.
The Times identified contributors of Indian descent using fundraising disclosures and a database of names compiled by Diane Lauderdale, a social scientist at the University of Chicago. The list was derived from government surveys in which people provide their last name and a country of ancestry. The method is used by top universities to conduct elections research. However, it cannot identify all Indian Americans, so The Times’ analysis probably represents an undercount.
Gabbard nearly tied Harris in donations from Indian Americans through June 30, 2019, raising almost 10% of her total haul from individual donors from the community — the highest share in the field.
Former Vice President Joe Biden, who joined the 2020 field in May, has raised more than $173,000 from Indian Americans, a number expected to rise after fundraisers last week in California, home to the largest number of Indian Americans in the nation.
Sen. Booker has more than $248,000 from Indian American donors. New Jersey has a large population of Indian Americans, and Booker has long maintained relationships with the community, showing up at festivals and backing Indian American candidates.