Hillary Clinton: The Asian-American choice
At the big Oprah-headlined rally for Barack Obama in Los Angeles on
Saturday, surprise guest Maria Shriver, California's first lady, cited
-- as one of a string of reasons why the state's Democrats should vote
for the senator from Illinois -- the fact that, like California, he
In the wake of Super Tuesday, we've learned that such diversity
doesn't necessarily include Latinos, especially those older than 30.
But a self-congratulatory article in the India Express touting the
influence of Indian-Americans in the Democratic primary process
reveals even greater constraints on the appeal of Obama's diversity.
In California, exit poll data suggests that 69 percent of Latinos
voted for Clinton, while only 29 percent voted for Obama. But
Asian-American voters skewed even more sharply pro-Clinton: 75 percent
voted for her, compared to 23 percent for Obama. That's almost as high
as the percentage of the black vote (78 percent) that went for Obama.
Sen. Clinton has strong ties with Indian-Americans, and once joked at
a fundraising event that she was "delighted to be the Senator from
Punjab." Last June, Barack Obama stumbled into a storm of bad
publicity when his campaign released an ill-advised attack on Clinton
citing the Punjab joke and her ties to Indian outsourcing companies.
Despite the claims of the Indian press, the total numbers of
Indian-American voters in the New York and New Jersey primaries were
too small to significantly influence the overal results. (The total
Asian vote was too small for there to be any relevant exit poll data.)
A better case can be made in California. In Santa Clara County, where
there are some 115,000 Indian-American residents, Clinton cleaned up,
winning 54.8 percent to 39.3 percent -- better than her statewide
average. (Whereas just to the north, in San Francisco and Alameda
counties, Obama was the victor.)
But that's just one piece. In California, 8 percent of all Democratic
voters identified themselves as Asian -- a category that encompasses a
vast swath of cultures. Truly, California's diversity is
extraordinary. But it doesn't appear, so far, to translate into a
willingness to vote for a "diverse" candidate for president.