AAPI VOTERS DIVIDED ON PRESIDENTIAL SUPPORT
By SUNITA SOHRABJI/EMS Contributing Editor
Almost half of Vietnamese Americans will vote to re-elect President Donald Trump Nov. 3, while two-thirds of Indian Americans will vote for the Joe Biden-Kamala Harris ticket, reports AAPI Data in new survey results released Sept. 15.
Overall, 54 percent of Asian Americans will vote for the Biden-Harris ticket, while 30 percent will vote for Trump and Vice President Mike Pence. Surprisingly 15 percent were undecided at the time of polling.
Similar data held for House and Senate races: 53 percent of AAPIs will vote for Democrats in House races, while 46 percent will vote Democrat in Senate races. Some 44 percent of Chinese Americans said they did not know who they would vote for in Senate races.
AAPI Data surveyed 1,569 registered voters across the nation, including 610 in California. The survey was conducted online and by telephone From July 15 to Sept. 9, with interviews conducted in English, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese. The population surveyed included 306 Chinese Americans, 263 Filipino Americans, 264 Vietnamese Americans, 250 Indian Americans and Korean Americans, and 226 Japanese Americans.
Asian Americans are the fastest-growing electorate in the U.S., doubling over the past decade, according to the Pew Research Center. More than 11 million are eligible to vote this year, about 5 percent of the overall voting population. The majority of Chinese Americans identify as Independents, while the majority of Vietnamese are registered Republicans. Indians, Japanese, Koreans, and Filipinos largely identify as Democrats.
John Yang, executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice, said Sept. 15 during a press briefing that Asian Americans have made a seismic shift in party affiliations since 1992, when most of the community voted for incumbent President George H.W. Bush, who was defeated by his Democratic opponent Bill Clinton.
There is a high level of enthusiasm for voting this fall: 54 percent of Asian Americans responding to the survey said they were more excited this year than previous years. Voter enthusiasm was highest among Filipino Americans and Indian Americans. More than a quarter of Chinese Americans surveyed said they were less enthusiastic this year.
Karthich Ramakrishnan, founder and director of AAPI Data, said during the briefing that Asian Americans will play a critical role in the presidential race in the states of Nevada, North Carolina, Georgia, Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. They will also play a pivotal role in Congressional races in Southern California, Texas, and New Jersey.
He noted, however, that despite the high level of motivation, neither the Democratic Party nor the Republican Party has done much to engage with the AAPI community. Only 12 percent of Asian Americans surveyed said they had been contacted by the Democratic Party: Indians and Japanese had higher levels of engagement with Democrats, while only 7 percent of Chinese and Vietnamese said they had been contacted by the party.
The Republican Party had even less engagement with AAPI voters: only 7 percent of those surveyed said they had been contacted by the party.
Christine Chen, founding executive director of APIAVote, said the Asian American electorate faces greater challenges in voting, including language access and possible intimidation at the polling site.
“Campaigns have less than seven weeks to reach out to AAPI voters,” she said, noting that 22 percent of Chinese Americans said they were as yet undecided. Post election, parties must continue outreach to the AAPI community to keep them engaged.
One in three AAPI voters say they need language assistance in order to vote, said Yang. Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act mandates that if 5 percent of the population in a political subdivision speaks a language other than English, all voting materials must be made available in that language.
Voters with limited English proficiency are also allowed to take an assistant of their choice to the voting booth to help them cast their ballot, regardless of whether the assistant is eligible to vote.
AAPI Data senior researcher Janelle Wong said the lack of engagement might stem from misunderstanding the issues Asian Americans support. As a whole, the community supports bigger government, health care for all, regardless of immigration status, and a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. Asian Americans also support rigorous gun control measures, said Wong. They are also more progressive on climate change.
Over half of Asian Americans surveyed said they support re-allocating funds from law enforcement services to support behavioral and mental health services, dispelling the stereotype of “law and order” AAPIs.
Surprisingly, over 70 percent of those surveyed expressed support for affirmative action, challenging yet another stereotype about the community. Indian Americans were the most ardent supporters of affirmative action, while 25 percent of Chinese Americans said they do not support affirmative action.
The full survey results can be read at aapidata.com.