Asian American Voters Break For Obama

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President Barack Obama. Photo by Pete Souza

Washington, DC—Asian Americans voted for President Barack Obama in enormous numbers this election, according to the Asian American Election Eve Poll, a joint project of the National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development (National CAPACD) and Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF). While only 41% identify as Democrats, Asian American voters broke for Barack Obama by a huge margin, with 72% voting for the President and 26% for Mitt Romney. In Congressional races, 73% of Asian American voters backed Democratic candidates, while 27% backed Republicans.

National CAPACD found that an incredible 51% of Asian American voters were not asked by any campaign, political party or community organization to vote or to register to vote.

“Mitt Romney had room to win the overlooked Asian American community,” said Lisa Hasegawa, Executive Director of National CAPACD. “While Barack Obama’s narrative attracted Asian American voters, Mitt Romney missed an enormous opportunity to offer a direct appeal to this group.”

“Community organizations’ efforts are especially critical in getting Asian Americans to the polls when traditional party vehicles ignore this demographic,” said Hasegawa. “National CAPACD supported 25 groups in 14 states over the election season to help educate Asian American and Pacific Islander voters and get them to the polls on Election Day.”

The Asian American Election Eve Poll surveyed 800 Asian Americans over the pre-election weekend.

“Asian Americans lost 54% of their wealth between 2005 and 2009, mostly due to the foreclosure crisis,” said Hasegawa. “Therefore, it is no surprise that Asian American voters name the economy as their number one issue of concern or that they believe that government has a responsibility to help low-income households.”

Asian American voters also overwhelmingly named the economy as their top priority, and supported an expansion of the federal government’s program to help low-income people pay rent.

Asian American voters are not fully decided on how to reduce the deficit. 26% of Asian American voters favor increasingly taxes on the wealthy in order to reduce the deficit, while 45% would like to combine these tax hikes with spending cuts — but a strong 71% do not think spending cuts alone will solve the budget deficit. In California, 73% of Asian Americans voted in favor of Proposition 30, a temporary tax on the wealthy to help fund education and public safety.

Asian Americans likely sided with Barack Obama in part due to his healthcare platform — 60% responded that the government should ensure access to health insurance. Yet while jobs, housing and healthcare were critical issues for Asian American voters, they were also drawn to Barack Obama over Mitt Romney for a less tangible reason — while 47% felt the President “truly cares about them,” only 14% said Mitt Romney did.

“The results of the poll show that Asian Americans remain a persuadable voting bloc that has yet to be fully engaged by either party” said Congresswoman Judy Chu, Chair for the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus. “As we shift from the election to finishing our business in this lame duck session, this poll gives policymakers a better understanding of how Asian Americans view policy priorities for our communities – from addressing the housing crisis to passing comprehensive immigration reform.”

“Asian Americans were hit hard during the recession — and this poll shows that they are focused on finding solutions to the economic downturn,” said Congressman Mike Honda, Chair Emeritus for the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus. “This poll provides critical information about what’s important for Asian Americans and should be used as a resource for elected officials as they develop policies that will have an impact in our communities.”

The detailed findings of this in-depth research will be released today online at www.nationalcapacd.org.

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