‘Marginalized community’ provides margin of victory

Asian Pacific American vote key to Obama victory

Asian Pacific American vote key to Obama victory

By Bert Eljera

LAS VEGAS – It’s been bandied about, but now it’s confirmed: The Asian American Pacific Islander vote helped put President Obama back in the White House.

Of Obama’s 4.7 million popular vote margin over Republican rival Mitt Romney, 1.4 million was provided by Asian Pacific Americans (APAs).

Seventy-one percent of APAs voted for Obama, and 28 percent for Romney, even though nearly half, or 50 percent of APAs say they are independent or not affiliated with a political party.

As Mike Honda, a Democrat who represents Silicon Valley in the U.S. House of Representatives said during the presidential campaign: “A marginalized community has become the margin of victory.”

APIA Vote, a national non-profit that works on electoral and civic participation of Asian Pacific Americans, provided the numbers, following a study of the Nov. 6 election results and interviews with community leaders.

In a recent webinar hosted by Executive Director Christene Chen and Karthick Ramakrishnan, and conducted in English and nine Asian languages, the implications of the electoral results were discussed.

It was pointed out that the strength and depth of AAPIA voters contributed to President Obama’s winning a second term.

A total of 2,785 interviews were conducted after the elections, and these showed an increase in voters enthusiasm and high level of support for programs such those for healthcare, education and economic recovery.

It was also noted that an unprecedented number of undecided voters exist in the Asian community.

The initial findings found these key facts:

  •  The number of Asian American voters has been steadily growing in every presidential election and is projected to be close to three percent of all votes cast in the 2012 election.
  •  Seventy-one percent of Asian Americans voters in the November 2012 election voted for President Obama, while 28 percent voted for Governor Romney.
  • Obama’s total popular vote margin of victory is estimated at 4.7 million. The AAPI votes contributed a net of 1.4 million votes to the margin. Without the AAPI vote, Obama’s popular vote margin would have been 3.3 million.
  • In 2012, there was a significant increase in voter mobilization efforts by community organizations. Still, most Asian American voters (65 percent) claimed they were not contacted about the election.
  • Those reached by political parties claimed the Democrats had more frequent contacts with them than by the Republicans.
  • Issues relevant to Asian Americans were those on immigration, racial discrimination, health and environment. The smallest concern was on national security.
  • Nearly 50 percent of registered Asian-American voters remain independent or undecided with respect to their party identification. This points to the possibility that many remain open to persuasion and outreach in future elections.

Among the community organizations deeply involved in APIA Vote were the Michigan chapter of the National Federation of Filipino-American Associations (NaFFAA-Michigan) and the Filipino Political Association of Michigan (FAPAM).

The two groups were involved in last election’s “Get Out to Vote” campaign in the community.

Follow Bert Eljera on Twitter @vegaspinoy60 and on Facebook at facebook.com/BertEljera.


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