Indian Americans contributed more than $3 million to 2020 presidential campaigns

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Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif. and 2020 presidential candidate, in San Francisco on June 30, 2019. (Bloomberg photo by David Paul Morris)

Indian Americans, who represent just over 1% of the U.S. population, are becoming a significant force when it comes to raising money in campaigns, having contributed more than $3 million to 2020 presidential campaigns — more than the coveted donors of Hollywood, according to a report in the 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,’ the report said.

Harris 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 Los Angeles Times analysis of disclosure forms filed by the campaigns. Gabbard was a close second with more than $374,000.

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 released July 15.

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 said.

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.

Manan Trivedi, a physician who hosted Harris’ Washington fundraiser with his wife, Surekha, was quoted as saying they were drawn by Harris’ Indian heritage and her being the child of immigrants: “We have two little girls, ages 5 and 9, and I want them to able to look up to the president and relate.”

But he said they decided to support Harris because they believe she is “whip smart” and best positioned to defeat Trump. “That was the No. 1 criteria,” said Trivedi, 45.

Gabbard nearly tied Harris in donations from Indian Americans through June 30, raising almost 10% of her total haul from individual donors from the community — the highest share in the field, the Times report noted.

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.

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