Asian-American support propels Obama victory

Young Asian-American supporters of President Obama in Nevada

By Bert Eljera

LAS VEGAS – While labor unions, women and Latinos were considered the key voting blocks, Asian Pacific Americans helped propel President Obama to a second term.

In a poll conducted jointly by the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) and the National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development, Obama scooped up the Asian American vote in big numbers.

The election eve poll  showed that 72 of the respondents intended to vote for President Obama and 26 percent for Mitt Romney.

Even though less than half, 41 percent, said they are registered Democrats, and 14 percent are registered Republicans, they also said in the poll that they will vote for Democratic congressional candidates.

Nearly a third, or 29 percent, Asian Pacific Americans describe themselves as Independents, or refused to divulge their party affiliations.

Among the beneficiaries of this Democratic preference was Grace Meng, who became the first Asian-American woman from New York to be elected to the U.S. Congress.

The Asian American Election Eve Poll will supplement the findings of AALDEF’s national Election Day multilingual exit poll, which has been conducted by AALDEF for 24 years.

“The Asian American community was poised to be a swing vote in key states,” said Margaret Fung, AALDEF Executive Director. “One-fifth of Asian Americans in Tuesday’s election were also first-time voters. Yet they came out in huge numbers for President Obama.”

The poll findings indicated that despite their growing interest in the 2012 elections, a majority, 51 percent, of Asian Americans said they were never contacted by a campaign, political party, or community group to register to vote or to vote.

Among the 40 percent who were approached to vote, 55 percent were contacted by Democratic representatives, 38 percent by Republicans, and 32 percent by community organizations.

“The continued lack of political outreach to Asian American voters is why AALDEF conducts a national poll monitoring and exit polling program in every major election,” said Fung. “There was clearly room for either Obama or Romney to make a concerted appeal to the Asian American community. Rather, the results of our poll indicate that issues, not outreach, drove Asian Americans to support the Democratic party in Tuesday’s polls.”

By a wide margin, Asian Americans said that President Obama cares more about their needs and problems (47 percent) than Governor Romney (14 percent).

Among the key findings on issues:

  • Health care. 60 percent of Asian American voters supported the federal government’s role in ensuring access to health insurance, compared to 23 percent who believe that people should secure their own health insurance.
  • Budget deficit. To address the national budget deficit, 45percent of Asian Americans supported a combination of tax increases and spending cuts, with 26 percent stating that taxes on the wealthy should be increased. Only 14 percent of Asian Americans supported spending cuts alone to reduce the deficit.
  •  Immigration reform. 57 percent of Asian American voters supported comprehensive immigration reform, with a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants currently in the United States. This support was much higher among U.S. born Asian American citizens (73 percent), compared to foreign-born Asian American citizens (50 percent).
  • Undocumented youth. 35 percent of Asian Americans said they were more enthusiastic about President Obama because of his new policy to stop the deportation of undocumented youth who attended college or served in the military (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). 40 percenty of Asian Americans said their vote was not affected by this policy directive, but nearly half (49 percent) of Asian American voters aged 18 to 30 were more enthusiastic about Obama after he announced the new policy in June 2012.


Follow Bert Eljera on Twitter @vegaspinoy60 and on Facebook at

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