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Latest News USA

Ajay Bhutoria played key role in garnering Indian American votes for Biden-Harris

By The SATimes Team

Ajay Bhutoria, based out of Fremont, CA, is a highly influential Indian American community leader, political activist, author, and tech entrepreneur. For over a decade, he has served as a prominent leader in the Democratic Party’s National Finance Committee. He has served as a national AAPI (Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders) leader on the Biden 2020 campaign, working closely in the Biden National Finance Committee, the AAPI Leadership Council, and the Biden South Asian Foreign Relations Policy Committee.

Ajay had worked closely with President Obama after cutting his activist teeth in the 2008 campaign. (Photos: Bhutoria family)

Ajay was born in Rajasthan, India, and raised in Guwahati, Assam. Growing up, his father taught him to chase his dreams, “no matter how big.” Inspired, Ajay came to the US, like many immigrants, with a single suitcase and a bare bank account, searching for limitless opportunities.

 

Having lived in the Bay Area as an entrepreneur for the past two decades, Ajay successfully reached that dream and has been working hard to make sure it’s available for others as well.

Ajay with Vice President Elect Kamala Harris, who represented California in the US Senate. (Photos: Bhutoria family)

He began his career of activism by getting involved with the 2008 Obama for America Presidential campaign. Elevated to the DNC and its National Finance Committee, he had the opportunity subsequently to work closely with both President Obama and Vice President Biden. Drawing inspiration from President Obama, Bhutoria became closely involved in boosting civic engagement and political participation of the Indian Americans nationally.

 

In 2016, Ajay hosted former President Bill Clinton at his home and was a co host for Hillary Clinton fundraisers over 20 times in various events, which included Apple CEO Tim Cook, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, eBay CEO John Donahue, and LinkedIn CEO Reid Hoffman. Ajay ended up raising a substantial amount and co-led the AAPI leadership council for Hillary for President.

 

Ajay has worked closely with Vice President Joe Biden and Dr.Jill Biden to support their Free Community College Initiative, which has helped numerous young students and immigrants get an affordable education and start their careers. On Day 1 of the Biden campaign, he became a founding member of the Biden 2020 National Finance Committee and National AAPI leadership Council, BFP 2020.

 

In addition to raising funds at the grassroots level for the Biden-Harris campaign, Ajay focused on ensuring that 1.3 million votes of Indian Americans in swing states were delivered for Biden.

 

Ajay helped strengthen and build the AAPI for the Biden Leadership and grassroots team. He brought in various community leaders to join the AAPI faith leadership council to solidify AAPI for Biden. He was elected National Delegate for Biden for California’s 17th district, on the edge of Silicon Valley and home to the largest Indian Americans in the nation.

Ajay coordinated the South Asian media outreach for the campaign. He got published over 100 positive stories in as many news outlets. He spoke extensively as a public figure on prime time Indian news channels about the Biden-Harris campaign and dispelled the myths and lies spread by Trump supporters.

Ajay launched several viral digital outreach campaigns in 14+ Indian languages to attract the Indians across the USA the South Asian media outreach for the campaign: “America Ka Neta Kaisa Ho Jo Biden Jaisa Ho”, “Trump Hatao America Bachao” and “Biden-Harris ko Jitao, America ko aage badao”, “Jaago America Jaago – Biden Harris ko Vote do”.

Besides raising funds at the grassroots level for the Biden-Harris campaign, Ajay focused on ensuring that 1.3 million votes of Indian Americans in swing states were delivered for Biden. This he managed through South Asian media outreach,  producing viral videos with catchy lines in 14 Indian languages, and by allaying the impression that Biden-Harris were anti-India.

Ajay and his wife Vinita Bhutoria released the super-viral popular musical video, “Chale Chalo, Chale Chalo, Biden Harris ko Vote do” (Let’s go vote for Biden Harris). It was a hit with the Indo-American community. This was a first-ever South Asian musical video for a  presidential campaign in America. Ajay said that “people connect with music, food, language, and culture.”

Bhutoria family gifted a small statue of Ganesha to Dr Jill Biden. (Photos: Bhutoria family)

It used to be taken as an axiom that Indian Americans don’t vote in good numbers. Ajay countered, “Have you ever reached out to them in their language? When a campaign volunteer speaks to a voter in their language, they are more likely to listen.”  Ajay designed this campaign with the idea that Indian Americans will feel more connected with Biden when volunteers can reach out to them in their language, “Not necessary all the Indians speak English,” he said. People get connected when someone talks to them in their language.

“There was lots of excitement,” he said, adding that “the vast majority had never experienced such campaign outreach previously.”

“We present the diversity of people in our community, inspired by Vice President Biden’s vision of hope and change,” reads the video’s description. “We come from all ages, places, and professions, but we are united in our passion for a candidate who represents our common values.”

Ajay directed efforts to deliver over 1.3M AAPI/South Asian votes in key battleground states. He coordinated thousands of Phone Banking and Text Banking contacts in the battleground States.

Ajay listened to community concerns around Kashmir, Article 370, and coordinated with the Biden campaign to share those concerns and coordinated to get the India Fact Sheet, Biden Harris Vision for Indian Americans, and India reach the Community.

Fremont, CA based Ajay Bhutoria with President Elect Joe Biden (Photos: Bhutoria family)

He listened to concerns of Hindu, Sikh, Jain, Muslim, and Christian Americans of South Asian heritage and directed efforts to unite the community.

He has also worked closely with the leadership on the Biden 2020 campaign to co-organize several national events. During the  Indian Independence Day celebrations this August, he helped organize a widely viewed virtual program and celebration that included prominent Indian Americans across the country. There he introduced VP Biden’s video message and invited senior campaign officials to share VP Biden’s vision for Indian Americans and building stronger India-US relationship.

 

Ajay played an influential role in spreading the message about VP Biden and Senator Kamala Harris being the best friend of India and Indian Americans through his articles, news stories, TV appearances, and community speaking events. His efforts helped strengthen community trust in the Biden-Harris ticket and build trust between India and the US. This he accomplished through various South Asian outreach groups.

 

The pandemic caused thousands of small businesses to shut down. Several thousands of Indian American businesses too were either closed or on the verge of closing. Ajay discussed the situation  with Indian American small business owners to understand their issues and highlighted their plight to Biden campaign’s Small Business Council, and provided a voice to South Asian business owners’ call for a revitalization policy.

 

Ajay has created a strong message in the Indian American community across the nation of civic engagement and political participation. In the recent election cycle, he influenced the community to believe in Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. Backed by an astute understanding of the community helped him turn out South Asian voters in large numbers to vote for and elect Joe Biden as our President and Kamala Harris as our Vice President.

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e-paper-stories Latest News

Trump or Biden? Too Close To Call

By Parveen Chopra

Managing Editor, The South Asian Times

New York: Given how hard it is to predict this race for the White House, one assertion can be made safely: President Trump would have won re-election comfortably but for two impediments: Covid-19, which is seeing a surge particularly in red and swing states right now,  and former Vice President Joe Biden, who is seen as a moderate candidate from his party compared to say Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren, and has given permission even to Republicans to ditch Trump.

That said,  the polls continue to point to a comfortable Biden victory. On Thursday, the nonpartisan RCP National Average had Biden 7.7 points ahead of Trump nationally, and by 3.4 points in top 12 battlegrounds. A respected election analysis platform, Cook Political Report, went on to say Tuesday,  “Time to sound the alarm on Biden’s likely victory”.

But wasn’t Hillary Clinton also ahead in polls a week before the 2016 election? Dave Wasserman, of Cook Report, makes the case that Biden has a better chance of beating Trump in 2020 than Hillary did in 2016 because: “First, Biden’s lead is larger and much more stable than Clinton’s was at this point. Second, there are far fewer undecided and third-party voters left to woo — reducing the chances of a late break toward one side.”

Top Democrats are optimistic that the election is swinging their way. Biden, like Hillary, is expected to win the national vote comfortably. As for the Electoral College, if most of the contested states fall in the blue column, it will be a blowout for Biden.

But Trump can spring a surprise a second  time and defeat Biden. The enthusiasm and the size of crowds at his fast and furious rallies has to be seen to be believed. Two, pollsters have been undercounting the Trump voters and ‘the forgotten people”. Covid or not, they cite the Gallup poll early this year that found 61% of Americans are happier than they were before Trump took over. Yes, Trump scores better than Biden in surveys on handling the economy. Republicans also registered many more new voters compared to Democrats in key states like Arizona, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan, and have had a better ground game.

But ironically for Trump, his focus on winning re-election at any cost by underplaying the virus all along – which led to a surge in infections and deaths, and lockdowns hitting the economy—may prove his Waterloo. The successful nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court did not move the needle. The Hunter Biden deals scandal does not seem to have hurt Biden.

Even many people who largely think Trump is good for America are put off by his bile and bluster. Indian Americans who support him are ready to ignore that, arguing that he is good for India.

Trump’s untruths are a legion. Lately at campaign rallies he has claimed that Covid is blown out of proportion by his detractors for political reasons, and that it will be off the news headlines after November 3. That is not true. Covid is a global pandemic and is likely to remain the main concern of Americans for a year at least.

The November 3 election will also decide if Democrats are able to flip the US Senate; the House is expected to remain in their hands, they may even increase their majority if there is a  blue wave. RCP and FiveThirtyEight predict a 1-seat majority for Democrats in the 100-member Senate. The Republicans are defending 23 seats compared to 12 for Democrats.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell himself conceded Wednesday that it is  a “50-50″ battle.  “It’s a 50-50 proposition. We have a lot of exposure. This is a huge Republican class. … There’s dogfights all over the country,” he said during a campaign stop in Kentucky.

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Latest News New York US Election Special

Early voters abound in swing states

New York: More than 64 million Americans have already voted — and about half of them are in the dozen or so contested states that will ultimately decide who wins the Electoral College and the election. An analysis by The New York Times showed that out of the total early votes cast by October 26, 31 million were in battleground states, and 24 million in likely Biden win states, and only 9.2 million in likely Trump win states.

Even more significant, early votes in these battlegrounds account for more than half of those states’ total votes in 2016. Nationally, voters have already cast about 46 percent of the total vote counted in 2016, according to the United States Elections Project.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, many states had changed voting rules, allowing millions to vote by mail for the first time, and many others have voted in person early to avoid an anticipated crush of voters on Election Day. Voter enthusiasm for and against President Trump has also fueled record-level early turnout across the country.

Democrats appear much more eager about early voting. In the five battleground states that report party registration, nearly two million more registered Democrats have voted than Republicans so far.

In Pennsylvania — a state Mr. Trump narrowly won in 2016 — more than three times as many Democrats have voted than Republicans. The party breakdown is more even in Florida and North Carolina.

President Trump, who has railed against mail voting, is counting on a “red wave” of in-person voting on Nov. 3 to overcome what appears to be an early voting advantage for Democrats.

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Latest News US Election Special

Trump makes gains but Biden still leads in battlegrounds

Washington: President Donald Trump gained on his Democratic challenger Joe Biden in national polling averages, and in nine of 12 contested states. But Biden still holds a sizable lead in the national polls and is still ahead of Trump in 10 of the 12 states that could decide the election.

Biden’s average lead is only 3 percentage points or more in five of the swing states, but those include the crucial states of Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin that Trump flipped in 2016. And while Trump grew his modest lead in Ohio and cut Biden’s leads in Arizona, Florida and Georgia further down to size, he also lost ground in Texas and Iowa.

The USA TODAY average of averages is based on the polling averages calculated by RealClearPolitics (RCP) and FiveThirtyEight.

National average  

USA TODAY average of averages: Biden 51.4%, Trump 42.9% (Biden +8.6)

Last week: Biden 51.9%, Trump 42.1% (Biden +9.8)

At this point in 2016: Clinton +5.6

Swing state averages 

Pennsylvania: Biden +5.4

USA TODAY average of averages: Biden 50.0%, Trump 44.6%

Last week: Biden 50.0%, Trump 44.5% (Biden +5.5)

Net change: Trump +0.1

Wisconsin: Biden +5.7

USA TODAY average of averages: Biden 50.1%, Trump 44.4%

Last week: Biden 50.5%, Trump 43.8% (Biden +6.7)

Arizona: Biden +2.7

USA TODAY average of averages: Biden 48.8%, Trump 46.1%

Last week:  Biden 49.3%, Trump 45.5% (Biden +3.8)

Florida: Biden +1.9

USA TODAY average of averages: Biden 48.9%, Trump 47.0%

Last week: Biden 48.7%, Trump 46.0% (Biden +2.7)

Net change: Trump +0.8

Michigan: Biden +7.8

USA TODAY average of averages: Biden 50.5%, Trump 42.7%

Last week: Biden 50.4%, Trump 42.9% (Biden +7.5)

Georgia: Biden +0.5

USA TODAY average of averages: Biden 47.6%, Trump 47.1%

Last week: Biden 47.9%, Trump 46.6% (Biden +1.3)

Iowa: Biden +1.1

USA TODAY average of averages: Biden 47.4%, Trump 46.3%

Last week: Biden 47.8%, Trump 47.0%(Biden +0.8)

Minnesota: Biden +7.1

USA TODAY average of averages: Biden 49.4%, Trump 42.3%

Last week: Biden 49.0%, Trump 41.2% (Biden +7.8)

Nevada: Biden +5.8

USA TODAY average of averages: Biden 49.6%, Trump 43.8%

Last week:  Biden 49.3%, Trump 43.4% (Biden +5.9)

North Carolina: Biden +1.9

USA TODAY average of averages: Biden 49.1%, Trump 47.2%

Last week: Biden 48.8%, Trump 45.9% (Biden +2.9)

Ohio: Trump +1.0

USA TODAY average of averages: Trump 47.4%, Biden 46.4%

Last week: Trump 46.7%, Biden 46.4% (Trump +0.3)

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Latest News US Election Special

Muslim Americans could determine who wins Michigan — and the election

Dearborn, MI: When Dr. Mahmoud Al-Hadidi casts his ballot in the November election, there is one issue that rises above all others as he makes his choice — respect.

“In this election, honestly, respect and recognition,” the emergency room physician in Michigan told VOA. “The Muslim community would like to be acknowledged as part of this great American nation, and not as an alien culture to this nation.”

Al-Hadidi supported Hillary Clinton for President in 2016 and Gretchen Whitmer as Michigan’s governor in 2018. But this time around, he isn’t sure if he’ll support Joe Biden over President Trump.

One of his concerns is the U.S. government’s “Terrorist Screening Database” which many Muslim Americans feel targets innocent members of their community. A subset of the database is the “no fly” list of individuals barred from boarding commercial flights.

“Definitely that list should be updated,” Al-Hadidi said. “Those who are wrongfully on that list should have their dignity back and should be removed.”

“You’ve got to tell people something to excite them to go out and vote,” said Osama Siblani, publisher of the Arab American News. “Just because Biden is not Trump is not a good reason for me to go out and vote.”

While Muslim Americans make up about 1% of the overall U.S. population, they have an outsized influence in Michigan, a battleground state that President Trump won in 2016 by just over ten thousand votes.
While the state’s 270,000 registered voters of the Muslim faith could impact the outcome of this year’s presidential race, their preferences are just as diverse as their community.

“Some members of our community can believe that Trump is good on the economy, on business,” Siblani said. “But many of us want from Biden to hear some commitment to them to excite them to go out and vote because, frankly, under Obama-Biden, Muslims were discriminated against [as well].”
Siblani adds that many are outraged over Trump’s Muslim ban— a ban Biden has pledged to end. At the same time, he said there is recognition and support for Trump’s efforts to promote peace and reduce U.S. troop levels in the Middle East.

Epidemiologist Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, who ran against Whitmer in the Democratic primary in 2018, differs: “It’s not that people are deciding between Biden and Trump. Often times it’s between Joe Biden and not voting.”

While no poll of Muslim Americans has been issued in the final weeks of the presidential campaign, previous surveys have shown the community backing Democrats more often than Republicans.
Sourced from Voice of America

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Latest News USA

A new project galvanizes Indian American voters in swing states

Philadelphia, PA: Desis United, a new crowd-sourced, volunteer-led initiative dedicated to defeating Donald Trump and housed under the New American Voices Political Action Committee, has announced last week that it is running ads on Indian-American news and entertainment television networks as well as print and digital media properties.

The mission of Desis United is to activate the swing voter demographic of Indian Americans through advertising that educates and galvanizes them to use their political voices.  This is done by using sharp, culturally relevant messaging to get Indian Americans to vote for the Biden-Harris ticket, which better reflects their interests and values, and elect Democratic candidates up and down the ballot.

Indian American registered voters now exceed 1.8 million nationally, with heavy concentrations of voters in battleground states like Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Wisconsin, and Texas. In some of those states, the population of Indian Americans has increased significantly since 2016.

Desis United has already begun to air its ads, “Whose Side Are You On,” and “Joe Biden and India: The Possibilities for our Future” produced by filmmaker and co-founder Ankush Jindal, on Willow TV during the network’s broadcast of IPL cricket matches. They have also purchased advertising on Sony TV’s properties, watched by tens of thousands of Indians in the United States, as well as print ads in Indian American magazines in Georgia and North Carolina.

While criticizing  ‘Trump’s lies and disastrous policies’, the ads also demonstrate how Vice President Biden will be a responsible steward of the economy, foreign affairs, including the U.S. relationship with India, and national stability.

In addition, Desis United is educating Indian Americans about the life story of Senator Harris, who, if elected Vice President, will be the highest-ranking person of Indian origin ever to serve in this nation’s history.

“We believe Desis United is a crucial and necessary intervention to support the effort to defeat Trump and elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris,” said Desis United co-founder Sundeep Dhiman. “We are excited to deliver persuasive and provocative messaging to members of our community in a way that has never been done before—and that was, unfortunately, not done four years ago. Indian Americans may well be critical swing voters, with hundreds of thousands of the community living in key battleground states.”

A volunteer advisory board composed of lawyers, content creators, marketing professionals, and small business owners is guiding Desis United.

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Latest News USA

Indian-American couple release ad campaign for Biden in 14 languages

Washington, DC: A Silicon Valley-based Indian-American couple has released a digital graphic campaign in Hindi, urging their community members to support and vote for Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris.

The campaign titled “Trump Hatao America Bachao” and “Biden Harris ko jitao , America ko aage badao“, was launched in 14 Indian languages on Monday, said Biden supporters, Ajay and Vinita Bhutoria.

The focus of the campaign is on the battleground states where every vote matters and Indian-Americans can play an important role in the election results, Bhutoria said in a statement.

Battle ground states of Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, along with three southern states Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, as well as Arizona collectively have 127 electoral votes.

“The Indian American Votes will be the margin of victory and make the winning difference in battleground states,” he said.

In 2016 Trump had a narrow win in Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania.

Democratic supporters this year are doing extensive outreach to the Indo Americans /South Asians in 14 languages through thousands of phone banking calls each week.

“We are determined to turn out the 1.3 million Indo American votes for Biden,” he said.

Earlier Ajay had released two Bollywood videos to “unite all South Asians and people of Indian origin to support Biden and Harris.

Chale Chalo Biden ko vote do” (Let’s go, vote for Biden) the music video is now running on TV Asia as advertisement and Ajay also led by bringing Digital Graphics of “America Ka Neta Kaisa Ho Jo Biden Jaisa ho” and “Jaago America Jaago, Biden Harris ko Vote do” earlier in 14 languages. (PTI)

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Latest News New York

Biden has overwhelming support of Indian-Americans: New poll

New Delhi: Nearly three-quarters of Indian Americans plan to vote for Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden in the US election next month, believing the country is headed in the wrong direction under President Donald Trump, according to a survey on Wednesday.

Indian Americans, the second largest immigrant group in the United States, make up less than 1% of registered voters for the Nov. 3 election. But both parties have reached out to the community in case they become important in the event of a close vote.

The Indian community is also in the spotlight after Biden picked Senator Kamala Harris, the daughter of an Indian immigrant, as his running mate. Harris is the first Black woman and Asian American in history to make the presidential ticket for a major party.

The survey found 72% of registered Indian American voters supported Biden for president compared to 22% for Trump. The rest either chose “others” or said they did not intend to vote.

The survey, a collaboration between the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Johns Hopkins-SAIS, and the University of Pennsylvania, covered 936 Indian Americans.

It was conducted between Sept. 1 and Sept. 20 in partnership with YouGov with an overall margin of error of +/- 3.2%. 

The Indian community has traditionally supported the Democratic Party, but strong personal ties between Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi have raised expectations of a shift.

There has been speculation the Indian community in the US may not favor a potential Biden presidency, fearing he may be tougher on India on issues such as human rights and civil liberties.

Still, the survey showed little erosion in support for Biden.

“The big takeaway from these numbers is that there is scant evidence in the survey for the widespread defection of Democratic voters toward Trump,” said Milan Vaishnav from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Devesh Kapur from Johns Hopkins and Sumitra Badrinathan in their assessment.

Voters who were polled listed the economy and healthcare as their top two concerns in the lead-up to the vote. U.S.-India ties were near the bottom of the list.

Harris’s run for vice president has galvanised Indian Americans to turn out to vote, especially the Democrats.

About 49% of respondents indicated that Harris’s nomination made them more enthusiastic about Biden’s candidacy while just 15% said it made them less enthusiastic. (Source: Reuters/ndtv.com)

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Latest News US Election Special

More than 5 million people have already voted in the election

Washington: Many Americans are voting early in the 2020 presidential election amid concerns regarding the coronavirus pandemic and doubts over U.S. Postal Service delivering mail-in ballots in time.

The 5.1 million total ballots cast as of Wednesday already suggests a record turnout for this year’s race compared to the 75,000 ballots that were cast at this time in 2016, according to data from the US Elections Project.

“Big topline numbers were over 5 million already, and that’s unprecedented in a modern election in the United States,” Elections Project founder and University of Florida political science professor Michael McDonald wrote on the project website.

He expects “around 150 million people” to vote in this year’s election, the “highest turnout since 1908 of those eligible to vote.”

That number of early ballots cast so far represents 3.7% of the total national voter turnout in 2016. Some states, however, have recorded a larger percentage of early voters.

In South Dakota, 86,386 ballots have been cast as of Wednesday, or 22.8% of the state’s total voter turnout in 2016. In swing state Wisconsin, 545,349 people have voted, or 18.3% of the state’s total 2016 turnout. Virginia has recorded 769,708 ballots cast, representing 17.9% of its total 2016 turnout.

Florida has seen the largest turnout by far with nearly 950,000 ballots cast so far.

Swing state Michigan and battleground state Minnesota have also recorded hundreds of thousands of ballots—Minnesota with more than 336,000 and Michigan with nearly 524,000.

McDonald said he “expected some things to be different since states changed their laws” to accommodate voters amid the pandemic. McDonald added that “70 million mail-in ballots [are] expected to go out to voters” ahead of Nov. 3.

“People did not have to take advantage of this,” he said of mail-in ballots and early voting. But many people already have.

 

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