Hindus earn like Episcopalians, vote like Puerto Ricans

By Razib Khan | July 25, 2012 10:24 pm

A few years ago I pointed out that as among American whites religious affiliation was often the best predictor of voting patterns among Asian Americans. The Republican party is for all practical purposes the white Christian party, but the minority of Asian Americans who are conservative Protestants are quite congenial to the Republicans. Their common religion transcends the racial gap. It is also no surprise that the two most prominent Indian American politicians who are Republicans are both avowed Christians (converts). It is unlikely that a non-Christian Indian could achieve national prominence as Republican; they would have two strikes against them, their race and their religion.

Pew’s new report on Asian American religiosity, Asian Americans: A Mosaic of Faiths, highlights this well. American Hindus are stridently partisan Democrats. In contrast, evangelical Asian Americans leaned toward John McCain even in 2008 (though not as much as white evangelicals). People have made comparisons between Indian Americans and Jews before, and in some ways this is facile, but when it comes to socioeconomic status and politics the similarities are striking. Like Jews, American Hindus are well off and well educated. And like Jews they are strongly Democratic. 48 percent of Hindus live in families with incomes of $100,000 or above, and 57 percent have some graduate education. The respective value for all Americans are 16 and 12 percent. This seems to confirm Andrew Gelman’s supposition that it is among high income groups that cultural identity markers are particular relevant.

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  • Matunos

    Your article mentions neither Episcopalians nor Puerto Ricans, so that’s kind of an odd title. But also, Puerto Ricans (that is, residents of Puerto Rico) can’t vote for President except in primaries.

    Politics in Puerto Rico itself seem to revolve more around the territory’s legal status than the Republican/Democrat divide in the states.

  • https://plus.google.com/109962494182694679780/posts Razib Khan

    #1, if you find the titles odd, the first you should do is google:

    http://tinyurl.com/d33dt3y

    that will save you time typing, and my time reading.

  • http://www.isteve.blogspot Steve Sailer

    Thanks.

    I saw a poll like this after the 2004 election reporting a similar Democratic monopoly among South Asians. Small sample size, of course, but if this pattern holds up among South Asians, it sounds like Game Over for the GOP.

    Everybody talks about the Hispanic Tidal Wave, but numbers don’t count as much as the urge to play the game. There are already more South Asian opinion molders than Hispanic opinion molders. It’s hard enough for the Republicans with most of the Jews against them, but with a second highly articulate, debate-loving group reflexively against the GOP, it will be a tough slog.

    As Rupert Murdoch pointed out in explaining his subsidy of The Weekly Standard despite his own personal lack of obsession with Israel, to survive in American national life, you don’t need all the Jews on your side, but you do need some of them. Long before Murdoch, Nixon and his chief domestic adviser Daniel Patrick Moynihan conjured neoconservatism into existence in 1969 by persuading the most nationalistic Jews that the fate of Israel and the fate of the U.S. in the Cold War were linked.

    I wonder if some future Republican Machiavel will similarly turn against Pakistan in order to bring nationalist Indians to the GOP?

  • Danny

    According to past exit polls as recently as 1996 the Republican candidate won the Asian vote, in a slightly greater margin than the white vote.

    According to the exit polls 2000 marked a huge switch over to the Democrats – I wonder why.

    Of course the Asian American electorate has changed over the years. In the past Anti-Communist Vietnamese formed a higher proportion of the electorate – but it’s still quite a remarkable change.

  • JR

    From an abstract point of view, it’s not surprising that religious affiliations lead to political leanings. As religions posit an “end game” and prescribe a way of life that supports their ultimate goal, it’s not surprising that an individual would select a candidate whose platform seems to support their particular “end game.”

    Unfortunately, the literal “end game” of a religion is, more often than not, far from compatible with the end game of earthly civilization. But, oddly, we seem to have more trouble finding collective agreement on what humanity’s end game should be from a down-to-earh perspective.

  • http://www.canhindu.com ron banerjee

    The fact that the GOP includes stridently anti Hindu demagogues, aka Pat Robertson who once stated that Hinduism is ‘demonic’, means they will never get the Hindu vote.

    Social conservatism, fiscal conservatism, tough law and order agenda.. these are all fine.

    But not even a stridently anti Pakistan and blatantly pro India policy like JFK would do it for Hindus.

    They hate our religion, and we despise them back.

  • Dm

    The foreword to the report states that Muslims comprise mere 4% of the U.S. Asians and their participation in the survey was too small to merit a separate category in the analysis. Is it because South Asian Muslims frequently do not self-identify as Asians in the U.S. surveys? Could there be a significant difference in socio-political characteristics of the self-id’d Hindu Asians vs. those Hinduists who self-id as Caucasians or “Other”? (I knew of only one South Indian who was a self-identified Black American, so I assume that it’s a rare solution to the “South Asian census category problem”)

    As a side note, since the Republican mainstream tends to be very xenophobic, shouldn’t it tend to attract those immigrants who exhibit the strongest self-hatred and/or self-denial (thus sort of agreeing with the party faithful who hate their homelands too) ? Then a radical change of a religious affiliation from the traditional faith of the home country would correlate with stronger self-denial and, therefore, with Republican voting.

    (In other words, the best voting pattern predictor wouldn’t be a religion by itself, but the degree to which it changed)

  • https://plus.google.com/109962494182694679780/posts Razib Khan

    Is it because South Asian Muslims frequently do not self-identify as Asians in the U.S. surveys?

    to my knowledge bangladeshis and indians would. indian american is one of the enumerated categories of asian american. the issue is that the base asian american population is 2-3 times larger than the base muslim population.

    Could there be a significant difference in socio-political characteristics of the self-id’d Hindu Asians vs. those Hinduists who self-id as Caucasians or “Other”?

    even if indian americans do not identify as ‘asian,’ and most south asians understand that it’s an awkward fit, i think very few would identify as white on a census form. there are very dark skinned and light skinned south asians who understand and identify socially as non-asian, but that’s different from gov. forms.

    As a side note, since the Republican mainstream tends to be very xenophobic, shouldn’t it tend to attract those immigrants who exhibit the strongest self-hatred and/or self-denial

    i disagree with your premise that the republican mainstream is xenophobic. the grassroots are xenophobic, though the difference between the average democrat and republican voter is smaller her than you’d think (i don’t want to get into a stupid argument about this, i’ve looked at the GSS responses to immigration, etc., this isn’t speculation). but republican elites are globalist. ergo, support of free trade, and until recently relatively free immigration. this was actually a ‘wedge’ issue with indian americans in 2004, as they were very uncomfortable with john kerry’s attack on outsourcing. in fact, the democratic emphasis on outsourcing and economic nationalism appeals to the same sentiment in the base, even if it is somewhat sublimated.

    in any case, simply go ask korean americans if they are ‘self-hating.’ there are plenty of them around.

    (usually the charge ‘self-hating’ is a low an sloppy one. most people actually understand their own interests and values than the people who presume they must be self-hating)

  • JK

    It would be very interesting to do political survey on the south asian american community with a breakdown by religion and country, or even region i.e. would pakistani muslims vote the same as bangladeshi muslims? punjabi muslims vs sindhi muslims? How would sri lankan buddhists vote? Do gujarati hindus (who include a large number involved in business) vote in the same percentages for certain candidates as tamil hindus.etc. etc.

    @#6 “They hate our religion, and we despise them back” Dramatic much?
    I’ve known a few gujarati hindus (probably the seven percent, more probably voted republican before bush and definitely before Obama) who’ve had no problem voting for republicans due to their pro-business policies. Republicans are not a BJP style political party whose identity is tied to religion. From what I see the republicans are in bed with the religious right for politicial expediency (this is relatively recent), they are not the religious right themselves (they ape certain language and policies to get the vote). Read a book by David Kuo called Tempting faith about the bush era republicans manipulation (not that hard to do) of the religious right.

  • https://plus.google.com/109962494182694679780/posts Razib Khan

    #9, i think it is plausible to argue that the contemporary republican party has a strong christian nationalist element. obviously it isn’t exclusively christian nationalism. the christian nationalism camp doesn’t think mitt romney is a christian, for example.

  • JK

    I agree Razib, the current Republican party does have an (strong) element of christian nationalism, but I don’t feel that that’s their whole identity, and it’s hasn’t been a continous one. If the US’s evanglelical portion of the voters shrinks to portions that wouldn’t be advangtageous, I would have no doubt the Republican would jettison that image real quick! I am very curious though, with the growth of other religions in this country, would we start seeing a change in Republican stances where it would focus on socially conservative issues, but try to appeal to religous voters in general and not just christians….

  • https://plus.google.com/109962494182694679780/posts Razib Khan

    #11, of course it’s not their whole identity, and of course it hasn’t been continuous. religious polarization only started in the 1980s. the current “problem” is that the evangelical protestant core can accept catholics and jews because of theological reasons, but remains suspicious of other religions (mormons, muslims, and eastern religions). and as the commenter above noted the attack on hindus in particular has been explicit and rather degrading, so it’s a natural response for hindus to be alienated. i think that in the near term the christian nationalism will increase as the party consolidates its base. in the long term it probably is not sustainable for demographic reasons.

  • JK

    I will be very fascinated to see how the republican party rebrands itself, once the christian nationalism loses steam. I envision something corresponding to what Prince Charles tried to do (I am a defender “of Faith” as opposed to “the” Faith). As far as the commentator, I am a little unsympathetic to self absorbed comments of sucessful groups in the US trying to cast themselves as some type of victim when they are in no real danger from quack statements by crooks and back woods types like Pat Robertson (omg such a snake oil salesman type if I ever saw one) who are just as vitrolic of muslims and even mormons and those without a faith. Republicans are not rightwing relgious parties like the BJP or the Muslim Brotherhood, where comments and statements can cause real violence and harm. They are are trying to cater to one of the demographics that happen to be stupid enough to follow the televangelists and other types. Even David Duke was a “republican” but I don’t think it would be fair to connect the identity of the party to white nationalists (though most white nationalists are republican)….but I do admit I reconsider that sometimes.

  • https://plus.google.com/109962494182694679780/posts Razib Khan

    #13, a few issues

    1) pat robertson is from a very privileged background actually. just so you know

    2) i think in fact that the analogy between republicans and BJP is much better than republicans and muslim brotherhood. the republican association with christianity in the broad sense (as opposed to the religious right) has more to do with cultural affinity and nationalism than religion. i think the BJP is similar (it is arguably more a nationalist/racialist than religious party). though as you said, the savagery which the BJP unleashed in gujarat is not something that the US republicans would ever countenance today

    3) most explicit and identified white nationalists actually aren’t republican. they are anti-system. implicit white nationalists (e.g., many southerners) are, but they are also people who might vote for herman cain, so the term ‘white nationalist’ kind of gets muddled in that context.

  • JK

    1) pat robertson is from a very privileged background actually. just so you know

    Wow! Just wikied, dude this guy is the son of senator? A democrat at that?!Knock me over with a feather!

    2) i think in fact that the analogy between republicans and BJP is much better than republicans and muslim brotherhood. the republican association with christianity in the broad sense (as opposed to the religious right) has more to do with cultural affinity and nationalism than religion. i think the BJP is similar (it is arguably more a nationalist/racialist than religious party). though as you said, the savagery which the BJP unleashed in gujarat is not something that the US republicans would ever countenance today

    Agreed. If I was to pick between the 2 I would say BJP is a bit closer than the Muslim brotherhood, though as far as nationalist/racialist, since they equate being Hindu as being a true Indian and vice versa, nationalist/racialist and religious seem to equate.

    3) most explicit and identified white nationalists actually aren’t republican. they are anti-system. implicit white nationalists (e.g., many southerners) are, but they are also people who might vote for herman cain, so the term ‘white nationalist’ kind of gets muddled in that context.

    It would of been so ironic if racist southerners would of had to vote for a black man to get the other disliked black man out of office ;-)

  • http://dispatchesfromturtleisland.blogspot.com ohwilleke

    “The Republican party is for all practical purposes the white Christian party, but the minority of Asian Americans who are conservative Protestants are quite congenial to the Republicans.”

    The comfort level is fading.

    My Korean born, suburban, fervantly anti-communist, affluent M.D., life long country club member inlaws, who are currently members of congregation of the predominantly white Pentecostal Assemblies of God religious denomination (who have long been naturalized citizens), spent all of the adult lives as naturalized citizens as yellow dog Republicans in New York State. But, they waivered right down to the line in 2008, and they are leaning Democratic in 2012 (notwithstanding the fact that both McCain and Romney are moderates within the GOP).

    The GOP has become an uncomfortable place for non-white people with an accent, even for conservative evangelical Christians. Religious and anticommunist commitments are increasingly failing to bridge the race and xenophobia gap. Also, the cultural gap between country club Republicans with Yankee leanings and blue collar Tea Party Republicans with Dixie leanings has never been wider.

  • rec1man

    Nikki Haley has been attacked by Republican leaders as a closet Sikh

    ‘Beshear, who is heavily favored to win re-election this November, is taking heat from his Republican opponent for participating in a Hindu “ground blessing” ceremony last weekend at a groundbreaking for a new Indian-owned Elizabethtown factory. Here’s how Republican Senate president and gubernatorial nominee David Williams put it:

    He’s there participating with Hindu priests, participating in a religious ceremony. They can say what they want to. He’s sitting down there with his legs crossed, participating in Hindu prayers with a dot on his forehead with incense burning around him. I don’t know what the man was thinking…’


    Sen. Satveer Chaudhary, a practicing Hindu, was re-elected in District 50 last week. Rather than call, his Christian opponent, Republican Rae Hart Anderson offered him an e-mail concession that he said read more like a sermon. The following is the text of that e-mail message. – The race of your life is more important than this one–and it is my sincere wish that you’ll get to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior

    Derogatory comments made by a Republican state Assembly candidate in Iowa about her opponent’s Indian heritage may have backfired on election day, as Indian American Swati Dandekar swept to an easier victory than expected Nov. 5 for the 36th district seat in the Iowa state legislature.

  • Duke of Qin

    The mainstream Republican party is not in the least bit “racist” against non-whites. In fact, quite the opposite, it goes to extreme ends cultivating it’s minority members and appeases Democratic race attacks with full kow-tows. Why else would a party spend much effort to cultivate a mostly apathetic Hispanic electorate who’s economic interests more closely align with redistributionist Democrats?

    The Democratic Party today is that it is a political chimera of wildly variant interests groups both social, cultural, and racial that mirrors the social and demographic disintegration of America itself.

  • rec1man

    @Duke of Qin, the Republican Party, welcomes Indians as long as they convert to christianity, such as Nikki Haley and Bobby Jindal.
    Apostates like Nikki Haley or Bobby Jindal are not liked by Hindu Americans

    Where there is doubt as to the genuineness of the conversion, as in the case of Nikki Haley, a very sizeable minority of Republicans is hostile

    In terms of unwed pregnancies, welfare, crime, affirmative action quotas, NAMs, Terrorism, Hindu Americans are more conservative than most Republicans, but we can live with the Democrats, since the Democrats dont want us converted

    Republicans will never attend a Hindu temple or Hindu function to canvass for donations or votes, whereas nominally christian Democrats often show up at Hindu temples or Hindu functions to canvass for donations and votes

  • https://plus.google.com/109962494182694679780/posts Razib Khan

    unwed pregnancies, welfare, crime, affirmative action quotas, NAMs, Terrorism, Hindu Americans are more conservative than most Republicans

    the pew survey has data. 34 percent of hindus identify as liberal, 14 percent as conservative. additionally, hindus are about as tolerant of homosexuals as the general public (so they are more conservative than you might expect on this issue based on their voting), and more pro-choice. so the idea that hindus are conservatives who are repelled by identity politics may not be right, but it may not be easy to disentangle the causality (there is social science that particular views emerge AFTER identification with a political bloc).

    though i think your general model here is probably true. hindus feel existential threat from republicans because of the evangelical drive to convert them.

  • rec1man

    Evangelical christians are about 25% of the Republican vote
    Evangelical christians are respectful to Jews. But from a very fundamental religious motive, Evangelical christians view Hindus as vermin that need to be converted. Several Republican politicians actually run christian conversion campaigns in India, trying to convert Hindus.
    Until this changes Republicans cant get the Hindu vote

    Hindus can vote for white Nationalists, but not for evangelicals. Nick Griffin of UK-BNP, gets a fair number of Hindu , Sikh supporters. In daily life, Hindu 7-11 owners get robbed by blacks. Hindu families have a very negative view of blacks

    Regarding conservative or liberal labels
    Compared to whites, Hindus do not tolerate in their kids, pre-marital sex, gay, drugs, drinking, poor academic performance in school. On the other hand, they dont care if their white neighbor is gay or has unwed babies

  • https://plus.google.com/109962494182694679780/posts Razib Khan

    Evangelical christians are about 25% of the Republican vote

    i think it’s closer to 50% now. facts are your friends. work on that.

  • rec1man

    Thanks for the correction, so why would Hindu Americans vote for a party that consists of 50% of people who consider Hindus as vermin, and need to be converted.

    The Hindu vote for Republicans is like the Indian muslim vote for BJP. There are certain niche segments that might vote that way, but the majority will solidly vote against

    The HBD people think that Hindu Americans ought to vote Republican, based on education and wealth, and perhaps the Republicans need to tweak their message to Hindu Americans. They dont consider the much bigger hostile element of Evangelicals.

  • Vijay

    Somebody already wrote this in 2008 when you last broached this subject; My variation of Gelman’s supposition is that it is among higher “Caste” groups that the Hindu cultural identity markers are particular relevant; if more OBC and SC groups were to migrate, then republican affiliation may actually increase!
    alternate supposition: Darker the skin tone, stronger the democratic self-affiliation; also explains the slighter dislike of hispanics and east asians to republicans.

  • JimR

    It’s interesting to contrast to Canada, where roughly 30-35 percent of hindus or sikhs in English speaking Canada vote for Conservatives (I would guess usually 15pct less than the white population in the same area, or 15 pct less than the local east asian population in BC). This is a recent development and it has helped Conservatives win constituencies that would have been very difficult to win 10 years ago. From people who I know in my personal life I would suggest that the attitudes of white and south asian parents aren’t as different as rec1man says, although there is some difference, seems to me kind of like how catholic parents might have felt 30 years ago.

  • rec1man

    @Jim R, Hindus dont mind voting for social conservatives or economic conservatives or even White Nationalists like BNP-UK

    But they need to leave religion out of it and not demand that we convert

    The Conservatives in Canada, dont have 50% of their members who demand that Hindus be converted to Christianity, and thats the big difference with the Republicans. Conservatives in Canada will canvass for Sikh votes and attend Sikh functions for fund raising and no Conservative in Canada will make an issue of the Sikh religion as Nikki Haley was attacked for her Sikh origin

    In the USA, no republican will attend a Hindu function for fund raising, or canvassing, whereas most Democratic politicians will happily attend Hindu functions and canvass Hindus

    The Republicans dont even want Hindu votes or Hindu $
    Republicans do want Indian votes and Indian $, only as long as any reference to any non-Christian religion is carefully hidden away

  • Tom Bri

    Vermin? Evangelical Christians consider Hindus Pagans, but I doubt either the word or the feeling vermin comes into their heads. Seriously. Get out and meet a few people.
    And remember, it was the Democratic Mayor of DC who referred to Asian shop keepers as dirty, and stated he wanted them ran out of their businesses and replaced by Blacks. There is plenty of racism to go around, and for me, definitely not on the left but not Republican either, it looks fairly well distributed.

  • https://plus.google.com/109962494182694679780/posts Razib Khan

    #27, your comment brings up specious points. stop it. rec1man is alluding to a real thread in modern american evangelicalism where particular religions are perceived to be the extension of satan and demons in this world. that’s what motivates their animus. in the late 1980s pat robertson did a whole special on how modern hinduism descends from babylonian paganism, and reflects demonic values. more specifically, a substantial number of evangelicals hold to older christian views where aside from judaism all non-christian religions are inspired or directly led by demons under the command of satan.

  • rec1man

    Tom Bri, I dont think that the Republican Party is racist to Indians as a race. In fact, Nikki Haley and Bobby Jindal do make it clear, that Indians can go far in the GOP, but only as converted christians and not as Sikhs or Hindus. And most Indians are not willing to convert

    And Indians do get victimised by NAM criminals , when they run 7-11 or drive a taxi and in daily life, this is much more than fringe white groups like KKK

    Evangelicals dislike Catholics, and Muslims too, but that is as fellow abrahamics with a heretical interpretation of Abrahmism

    For Evangelicals, Hindus are anti-Abrahamists, and unlike Europe, where the pagans were exterminated, and belong to history, Hindus are alive and thriving in the USA, in fact as successful as the Jews. This causes a lot of cognitive dissonance and discomfort to the Evangelicals. Most democrats on the other hand are nominal christians, and ignore a lot of this stuff

    A literal reading of the bible will show huge similarities between Hinduism and the religion of Philistines, Canaanites, Greeks, Romans , Celts , and other pre-christian religions that have been the adversary of the Christian Church

  • Sandgroper

    rec1man – Did you pick up on the story in Australia/India, which ran for a long while but is currently quiet, that Indian students in Australia were being targeted for crime? It was of course denied by the Australian authorities, with insistence that Australia is ‘not a racist country’ (manifestly untrue in my experience). The data actually demonstrated that Indians were being targeted disproportionately. The interpretation applied was that Indian students tend to be relatively affluent/have all the latest cool gadgets which they display ostentatiously, which makes them a target.

    The official line is not credible. Two Indian students were attacked close to my daughter’s university last year: one girl was stabbed in the back while walking home, and a young male was beaten unconscious and dumped in the river. Fortunately both survived. In both cases there was no theft, and no apparent motive. At least in the case of the girl, I know she was not visibly affluent – she was working part time as a supermarket check-out girl to support herself during her studies. In both cases the attacker was ‘a blonde Caucasian male’.

    I had been thinking racist attacks (I also wondered if they had been mistaken for Muslims), but I am now wondering if the targeting is at least partly religiously motivated. I had not realised the strength of the anti-Hindu thing among evangelical Christians.

    Taking rather a long time to get to the point – do you have insight into these occurrences in Australia, and do you think they are/could be religion-inspired? It is something that has not occurred to me before, and no mention of it has been made in the media, but that does not necessarily mean anything.

  • https://plus.google.com/109962494182694679780/posts Razib Khan

    Evangelicals dislike Catholics, and Muslims too, but that is as fellow abrahamics with a heretical interpretation of Abrahmism

    dude, why do you always overplay your hand with misleading crap??? there are a small minority of evangelicals (e.g., those at bob jones) who are anti-catholic, but those are exactly the type who would reject any affinity with catholics. rather, catholicism is the ‘whore of babylon’ to them. the vast majority of evangelicals are much more comfortable with catholicism than they used to be. the issue with muslims is totally different. though a moderate group of evangelicals would agree with you, and mainline protestants do, a large number now assert that the muslim god is NOT the christian god. rather, they now argue that islam is also a demonic religion. now, you do have an issue where moderate evangelicals will make a distinction between islam, abrahamic, and hinduism, pagan. but these moderates are not the ones who are vitriolic against hindus.

  • https://plus.google.com/109962494182694679780/posts Razib Khan

    #30, i was under the impression that some of the attacks were muslim lebanese and other non-whites (this from a discussion with an indian australian at sepia mutiny).

  • Tom Bri

    I apologize, Razib. Sorry about that. The term ‘vermin’ riled me up. I could troll the internet and find uses of words like that, but does it truly reflect the general attitude of evangelicals? I currently live in small town middle America, and this just doesn’t ring true to me. As for all other religions being inspired by demons, well, yes, Christians do believe that.

  • https://plus.google.com/109962494182694679780/posts Razib Khan

    but does it truly reflect the general attitude of evangelicals

    i think vermin is too strong of a word. the major issue is that it is not uncommon for evangelical protestants to believe that hinduism is a malevolent cult. naturally hindus do not react positively to this.

    As for all other religions being inspired by demons, well, yes, Christians do believe that.

    only a minority of american christians believe that.

  • Sandgroper

    #32 – That person’s view would be of interest to me.

    There’s no doubt various dynamics in play, and the ethnic sub-populations vary a lot between cities. Leb gangs are very active in Sydney, but not at all in Perth, that I know of.

    It just never occurred to me before that specifically anti-Hinduism might be one of the elements.

    The attacker in Perth was a white guy, and they haven’t caught him. In a lot of the attacks in Melbourne, they were white.

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About Razib Khan

I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. In relation to nationality I'm a American Northwesterner, in politics I'm a reactionary, and as for religion I have none (I'm an atheist). If you want to know more, see the links at http://www.razib.com

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