The GOP's Big Asian-American Problem

Still overlooked in the immigration discussion are Asian Americans, who are the fastest growing demographic group in the country—and one of the most diverse. The bulk of Asian American immigrants (83 percent) come from China, the Philippines, India, Vietnam, Korea, and Japan. At present, they’re 5.8 percent of the total population, nearly half of whom live in the West, with a large concentration on the Pacific coast. Seventy-four percent of Asian American adults were born outside of the United States, and in 2009—according to the Pew Research Center—Asian American immigration outpaced Hispanic immigration for the first time in recent history:


The Republican Party’s standing with Latinos is solid compared to where it is with Asian Americans. A whopping 73 percent of Asians supported Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential election, up 11 percent from four years ago. When you disaggregate by nationality, the difference between Asian support for Obama and Romney is even more stark and begins to approach African American-levels of support for the president. I made a quick chart to illustrate the point, using data from Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund’s multilingual presidential exit poll (Japanese Americans were included in the survey, but the sample size was too small to break out separately):

Obama won the three largest demographic groups—Chinese, Indian, and Filipino Americans—with more than 76 percent support. Filipino identification with the GOP is as large as you would expect—26 percent are enrolled in the Republican Party—but only 9 percent of Indian and Chinese Americans identify with the GOP.

Simply put, the Republican Party has an “Asian problem” that rivals their “Latino problem” in size and scope. So far, it’s gone under the radar. But given the pace of Asian immigration to the United States—and the growing Asian populations of states like Virginia, North Carolina, and Georgia—Republicans can’t ignore it for long.