Asian American Reaction to the Presidential Election

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Some thoughts on the presidential election from the supporters of Barack Obama and John McCain:

It’s not a big mystery why Sen. Barack Obama won the election last night.

The economy is in the tank. The war in Iraq continues to drain our nation’s resources with no clear national security benefits. Health care is out of reach for too many Americans. Children are not getting the quality education possible in this country. Seniors are struggling with prescription drugs and long-term care.

On top of that, Sen. Obama ran a great campaign and Sen. McCain executed poorly. The Washington Post today quoted McCain senior adviser Steve Schmidt saying that no other Republican “could have made this a competitive race the way that John McCain did.” In fact, I think several of the other Republican contenders would have made a much stronger run for the White House.

CNN exit polls showed that the majority of white men and women voted for McCain, which means that voters of color decided the race with record turnout by Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, African Americans and Latinos.

The same exit poll shows that 61 percent of Asian Americans chose Obama and 35 percent for McCain. The National Asian American Survey in October showed 41 percent of Asian Americans favoring Obama, 24 percent for McCain and 34 percent undecided.

Given these two polls, it looks like two-thirds of the undecided Asian American voters went for Obama. We can credit this to the campaign’s unprecedented focus on AAPI communities, championed by Barack’s sister Maya Soetoro-Ng and her husband Konrad Ng, and led by AAPI Vote Director Charmaine Manansala and AAPI Vote Deputy Director Betsy Kim, Co-Chairs of the Obama AAPI Leadership Council Stanley Toy, Ann Kalayil and Nancy Chen and campaign staffers Madhuri Kommareddi and Eugene Kang, who helped the senator to victory in the primaries.

It will become clearer in the coming days how much of a role AAPIs played in the battleground states that Obama won. Those states were the central focus of the AAPI field operations and the efforts paid off.

Overall, it’s too early to tell the true impact of AAPIs in the national campaign. But with Sen. Obama now the President-Elect, we have truly turned the page on one of this country’s bleakest chapters and we can get started on the work ahead of us.

— Keith Kamisugi

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Senator John McCain has earned the respect of many Asian Americans in this election and we thank you for your selfless support.

Initial polls showed that over 85 percent of Vietnamese Americans voted for Sen. McCain, which is the highest among all Asian American groups in the history of any election. This level of support combined with active political participation from Taiwanese, Chinese, Filipino and Korean Americans have kept this a close race in Virginia and Florida.

However, the result of this euphoric election and allegations of massive voter fraud are a step backward for many Asian Americans who escaped from socialism.

We achieved the American dream through a treacherous journey of hard work, but the next administration’s policy on affirmative action, higher taxes and foreign affairs will prove harmful to Asian Americans whose fundamentals are very different from other minority groups.

Despite this, we must remain vigilant in order to protect the fruits of our labor. We will have to work even harder to restore duty, honor and integrity by holding Washington responsible in the next four years.

— Stephen Fong

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