Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Indians

Are Indians the new Republican voting block?

OK, first, let's get this out of the way: Some people will say that reducing race or religion or any other self-identifying socioeconomic or cultural element is a waste of time. Everyone is different! You can't reduce a person's political outlook only by the color of their skin or the church they attend! Well, of course. But this is the sort of things that pollsters, politicians, and, yes, academics like to pick apart, and when over 90% of a specific demographic votes for only one party decade after decade, it's a legitimately safe assumption that we can make.

And let's not make any bones about this: pretty much every minority votes for Democrats. This has been happening regularly since the war, or at least until certain demographics grew large enough to warrant attention. The only exceptions are Hispanics, which George W. Bush, to his credit, made a concentrated effort to convert to the GOP. (There's also some legacy sympathy with Cubans, who are solidly Republican, and the built-in advantage of social issues from being an overly Catholic group.) From an issue standpoint, many Hispanics tend to agree more with Republicans than Democrats--and, not to mention, most of the states with significant Hispanic populations are fairly red--and Bush went out of his way to bring them in with a generous stance on immigration and appointing several Hispanics to reasonably top-level members of his cabinet. Of course, the remainder of his party practically went apoplectic, and practically drove everyone right into the Democrats' welcoming arms.

So the emergence of Indians (from India, moron, not the reservations) becoming elected officials--Republican, no less--seems odd. Aside from California, I don't think there's been a concentrated effort by Indians to participate electorally. I just assumed that they voted Democratic, but I honestly don't think I've ever seen a study or poll about their level of voting or what party.

Now, granted, this is hardly a trend--there is one Governor (Bobby Jindal) and a governor that hasn't even been elected yet (Nikki Haley). Two doesn't make an emerging trend. And Haley hasn't even taken office yet (though it is unlikely at this time she wouldn't get elected in the solidly Republican South Carolina).

Why is this? I could make some armchair guesses--Indians tend to be entrepreneurs, the natural bastion of Republican support. And the culture of the Indians seems to be reasonably compatible with the issues of the conservative party. However, I could probably look up some demographics about income levels and union membership and church attendance and come to the opposite conclusion--that they are natural allies of the Democrats. So I'm not sure I know the answer.

Of course, it could all mean nothing. I think it's telling that both candidates are governors from the South--especially Louisiana, where things seem to operate on a different plane than the rest of the world. Plus, they have reasonably Anglican names (Nikki Haley changed hers from a suitably Indian name, an action which has become a bit of an embarrassment to her).  So whether this will simply be an outlier or if they will be a hopeful beacon for a thousand future Indian policymakers, I don't know.

The Pledge: C'mon, GOP. Don't be assholes like you have for every other demographic in the history of our country.

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