Market Research Foundation’s analysis of the 2021 Virginia governor’s race showed lower-income and minority voters played a pivotal role in the Fairfax County precincts that became more Republican in 2021.
We analyzed the precincts that shifted more toward GOP newcomer Glenn Youngkin compared to 2017 GOP candidate Ed Gillespie and showed precincts that shifted have significantly higher Hispanic and Asian populations, as well as an average annual income nearly 50% lower than precincts that shifted more Democrat.
Our findings in Fairfax County appear to be the tip of the iceberg as far as the role minority voters played in northern Virginia shifting to the right. In a recent TabletMag commentary Chasing the Hindu Vote, freelancer Maggie Phillips writes about her travels around Loudoun County the week after the governor’s race, and the role Hindu Americans played in Youngkin’s victory.
“In Chasing the Hindu Vote, freelancer Maggie Phillips writes about her travels around Loudoun County the week after the governor’s race, and the role Hindu Americans played in Youngkin’s victory.”
Phillips writes, “during their campaigns, both incumbent Terry McAuliffe and Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin reached out to Hindu community leaders as part of their effort to reach Asian American voters. And though Hindu Americans may not have been the electoral tipping point for Youngkin, a potential partisan shift toward the GOP among this predominantly immigrant group may signal a broader national electoral shift.”
Phillips writes that according to Utsav Chakrabarti of HinduPACT, breaking out Hindu Americans from the larger pool of Indian Americans is important, because Hindus have distinct values and beliefs that may make them more open to conservative candidates and policies. She writes, “whereas 82% of Muslims in the Carnegie Endowment’s recent Indian American Attitudes Survey said that they planned to vote for President Biden in the 2020 elections, only 67% of Hindus did.”
“Whereas 82% of Muslims in the Carnegie Endowment’s recent Indian American Attitudes Survey said that they planned to vote for President Biden in the 2020 elections, only 67% of Hindus did.” – Phillips
Phillips also notes that Indian Americans who’ve been in the U.S. longer preferred President Biden in 2020, while newly naturalized Indians preferred Trump at a higher rate.
“Data from the IAAS also appears to bolster Chakrabarti’s characterization of the Hindu American experience as fundamentally an immigrant one,” says Phillips. “According to the survey, naturalized Indian Americans who have been in the U.S. more than a decade preferred Biden, whereas those who have arrived in the past decade showed stronger support for Trump. While naturalized Indian Americans in the IAAS survey were still less likely as a whole to vote and have weaker partisan affiliation compared to U.S.-born Indian Americans, Chakrabarti thinks this is changing, especially among Hindu Americans.
Phillips’ interview with Sekhar Tiwari of the American Hindu Coalition included Tiwari’s statement that both McAuliffe and Youngkin reached out to Hindu Americans and visited Hindu Temples in Virginia. Tiwari’s impression was that the newcomer Youngkin was more well received than Terry McAuliffe.
Tiwari stated that McAuliffe seemed caught up in defending his policy record, while Youngkin was perceived as “humble” and a person who “listened deeply” while reaching out to the Hindu community in Virginia.
“Tiwari stated that McAuliffe seemed caught up in defending his policy record, while Youngkin was perceived as ‘humble’ and a person who ‘listened deeply’ while reaching out to the Hindu community in Virginia.”
In Phillips’ commentary, Tiwari speculates that close to 65% of Hindu voters in northern Virginia are Democrats and the remaining 35% are some blend of Republican and Independent, but he thinks “an overwhelming majority” voted for Youngkin in the recent Governor’s race. Phillips’ discussions with Hindu leaders reveals education was one of the top issues that pushed Hindu Americans away from the Democratic Party, particularly Virginia schools weakening merit-based admissions policies in the name of “diversity.”
One thing is clear, Asian, Indian, and Hispanic voters in Virginia are increasingly critical of Democrats’ approach to governing, and minority voters played a significant role in Youngkin’s victory. Whether this partisan shift in Virginia is indicative of a wider nationwide shift is yet to be determined, but the GOP clearly has significant opportunities with the right message.