It has been a couple of weeks now since Republicans upset the Democrats in the New Jersey and Virginia governor’s races. Both of these states went for Barack Obama in 2008. There were two simple explanations debated among the pundit class (although in politics the reality is never simple): 1) The incumbent in New Jersey and the democratic nominee in Virginia were exceptionally poor candidates. One (Corzine) was very unpopular and the other (Deeds) was just too unpolished a candidate. 2) Independents are very discontent with Obama and this is a sign that the country is turning toward Republicans and Republican ideals
A writer at the little-known Washington Examiner culled the polling data and has come up with another theory: it’s the Indian American voters swinging that is responsible:
As I drilled down in http://www.nj.com/politics/map/ the election results by city, borough and township, I saw that Christie carried Woodbridge Township by a 51%-42% margin and Edison Township by 49%-45% margin. These are the largest jurisdictions in the county, with about 100,000 people apiece, and Woodbridge was the political base of Jim McGreevey, who was elected governor in 2001 and resigned in 2004 after it was revealed that he had made his male lover head of the state homeland security department. Then I recalled that Middlesex County these days has an unusually large percentage of residents, 18%, who classify themselves to the Census Bureau as Asian. That’s one of the highest figures outside Hawaii and the San Francisco Bay area. And according to these figures from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey Edison township’s population is 36% “Asian only,” as compared to 49% “white only” and 7% Hispanic, while. Woodbridge township’s population is 19% “Asian only,” as compared to 66% “white only” and 15% Hispanics. The two township’s “black only” percentages are 10% and 9%. In other words, Asians are the largest and most visible minority in Edison and Woodbridge Townships–and are apparently largely of one source, Edison in 2000 had the highest percentage of Indian-ancestry residents, 18%, of any jurisdiction with more than 1,000 Indian-ancestry residents in the nation. Following it on the list were Iselin (part of Woodbridge Township), Plainsboro Township (in southern Middlesex County, adjacent to Princeton), Dayton (a part of South Brunswick Township in Middlesex County) and Avenel (part of Woodbridge Township).
What I think we are looking at is an upscale Indian cluster, around the pharmaceutical, scientific and technical firms in central New Jersey. These people appear to be upscale demographically; the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey reports that Middlesex County foreign-born residents (48% of whom are Asian, 26% Hispanic and 6% black) have a higher percentage of over-$75,000 earners than Middlesex County native-born residents, a higher percentage in management and professional occupations, a lower percentage of people in poverty, higher mean earnings, and nearly twice as high a percentage with graduate degrees and more likely to be in married couple families.
All this evidence strongly suggests that Republicans made gains and Democrats suffered significant losses among Asian, and specifically among Indian-American voters, in Middlesex County. This upscale group, ready enough to vote for John Kerry in 2004 and Barack Obama in 2008, seems to have been repelled by New Jersey’s high taxes and big government under Jon Corzine. There should be some lessons here for Republicans generally–and for Democrats as well. [link]
If this is true then I blame Corzine for not showing up to the parade. The article also points out the following with regards to the Virginia race:
Plus, down in Virginia, Fairfax County, which is 16% “Asian only” and which like Middlesex County voted 60%-39% for Barack Obama, voted 51%-49% for Republican Governor-elect Bob McDonnell. McDonnell campaigned heavily in Fairfax’s immigrant communities and clearly made some inroads there. [link]
There is of course another, equally dramatic, conclusion one can make using the statistics cited by the author of this article. Maybe Asian American voters just didn’t show up to vote. It was an off-year election. Even if that is the case, it goes to show you just how important the South Asian American electorate is becoming in many parts of the country. By NOT showing up to vote our community can swing the outcome of an election.