AP Photo/John Locher Cynthia Ameli, center, a Chinese-American, picks up materials from Sarah Gibson before heading out to canvass for presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in Las Vegas in February 2016. I t’s no secret that the Asian American vote is currently a hot commodity. In May, a survey showing 66 percent of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) had a favorable view of the Democratic Party garnered the attention of the media and presidential candidates alike. But despite being the fastest growing racial minority in the country, Asian Americans have notoriously low voter turn-out rates, and have had, until recently, a reputation for splitting their votes between the two parties. It’s no wonder, then, that Asian Americans have been largely ignored in national and local elections alike. With only a 48 percent voter turnout rate in the 2012 election, and with 37 percent of Asian Americans saying they were “too busy” to vote in the 2010 elections, they’ve been low on...
Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via AP Images Karen Hobert Flynn, president of Common Cause. This past June, Karen Hobert Flynn was appointed as the tenth president of Common Cause, the nonpartisan government accountability advocacy group founded in 1970. Hobert Flynn has been involved in Common Cause for more than 25 years and has delved into reform efforts in a number of areas ranging from political money and democracy to voting rights. She headed up the group’s Connecticut office for more than a decade and helped implement one of the strongest state campaign-finance reform laws in the country. The American Prospect sat down with her to talk about her new role and her thoughts on the issues confronting our democracy today. This is an edited and condensed version of our conversation. J ennifer Baik: We are at a pivotal moment in our history where the United States could creep into authoritarianism, continue on our current trajectory, or move in a more progressive direction. How would you...
Record numbers of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are supporting the Democratic Party, according to a new survey of one of the country’s fastest growing demographic groups. Disenchanted with the rhetoric of Donald Trump and other Republican candidates, this key group of swing voters has taken a hard left turn, which may prove to be a key factor in the 2016 presidential race.
Trump fared poorly in the poll: 61 percent of Asians and Pacific Islanders held unfavorable views of the presumptive Republican nominee. On the Democratic side, 62 percent of those polled viewed Hillary Clinton favorably, compared with 48 percent for Bernie Sanders. The poll also found that voters preferred the Democratic Party in U.S. House and Senate races.
The poll, released on Monday, was conducted by Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote, and AAPI Data. The survey, conducted over landlines and cell phones from April 11 to May 17, tallied the responses of 1,212 Pacific Islander and Asian American registered of Indian, Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese descent. The poll’s margin of error is plus or minus three percentage points.
The Democratic Party came out on top by a wide margin: 66 percent of Asians and Pacific Islanders surveyed had favorable views of the party; 28 percent of those polled had a favorable view of the Republican Party, a drop of 11 percentage points since 2014.
The survey found that Asian American and Pacific Islanders find topics such as education, health care, the threat of terrorist attacks, jobs and the economy, gun control, retirement security, and the environment as “extremely important election-related issues.” Moreover, the voters surveyed believe that the Democratic Party holds a “sizable advantage on several issues” over the GOP.
The survey indicates that divisive comments aimed at Muslims and immigrants are shaping voting preferences: More than 40 percent of the Asians and Pacific Islanders polled said that they would not vote for candidates who expressed negatives views about either group. The survey’s authors concluded that “Asian Americans are paying close attention to political discourse,” and “will not vote for a candidate expressing exclusionary rhetoric.”
Asian American and Pacific Islanders have traditionally been swing voters, but they are also the least likely to be contacted by political campaigns: 62 percent of those surveyed reported no contact from Democratic campaigns 73 percent reported no contact from Republican campaigns.
When asked “Compared to previous elections, are you more enthusiastic than usual about voting this year or less enthusiastic?” 51 percent of Asians and Pacific Islanders responded that they were more enthusiastic—an increase of 24 percentage points since 2014.
Since the 2012 presidential election, many Asian Pacific Islander Americans have moved into the ranks of eligible voters because they have turned 18 or have become American citizens: 60 percent of new Asian American and Pacific Islander voters gained the right to vote through naturalization.
Asian Americans currently comprise about 4 percent of all eligible voters; By 2044, that figure is expected to increase to 10 percent.