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Women of Color ‘Poised to Play a Pivotal Role’ in 2020 Elections, New Report Finds

By Akemi Tamanaha & Louis Chan

The AAPI Civic Engagement Fund and Groundswell Fund have jointly released a report, which found that women of color are “poised to play a pivotal role” in the upcoming 2020 elections. The report also underscored the important role women of color played in the 2018 midterm elections.

The report, titled Ahead of the Majority: Foregrounding Women of Color used original and existing data to analyze the 2018 elections “through an intersectional lens.”

The report found that turnout in 2018 increased by 30 million voters from 2014. Specifically, turnout amongst women of color increased by 37 percent. The turnout rate of AAPI women increased by 48 percent. Women of color also contributed to the increased turnout rate by encouraging their friends and family to vote.

AAPI women were also among a few groups that reported higher rates of participation in political protests.

“With the 2018 Midterms, the nation witnessed a sea change in American
politics led by women of color,” EunSook Lee, Director of the AAPI Civic Engagement Fund, said. “This is a story of Black women on the frontlines of democratic demands for progressive change and social justice, turning out to the polls, made more impactful by the participation of Latinas and Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) women. The data points to the potential for substantive policy change when strategies and resources are centered on women of color.”

What spurred the increase of political participation among AAPI women? Taeku Lee, a professor of law and political science at UC Berkeley and Managing Director of Asian American Decisions, told AsAmNews that Trump may have played a role in pushing women of color to the polls. Lee said many AAPI women reported that the president’s behavior made them feel angry and disrespected.

“The data suggests strongly that for women of color, including AAPI  
women, both turnout rates and vote choice was heavily motivated by  
both President Trump’s rhetoric and leadership style and the  
substantive policies of the Trump Administration,” Lee told AsAmNews in an email.

Lee also pointed out that Asian Americans have become a stronger voting force over the past few years.

“[AAPIs} are now in the high single digit percentages or double digit percentages in many Congressional districts, they have become solidly Democratic as a group in how they vote, and they are being mobilized in unprecedented numbers,” Lee said.

What does this mean for the 2020 elections? Lee is reluctant to make predictions about the outcomes.

“As a card carrying political scientist, I like to stay close to the well-researched facts, and on that basis, it is really too early to tell,” Lee said. “Especially at the top of the ticket, given the overcrowded field of Democratic hopefuls.” 

Lee believes that Trump will continue to mobilize voters on both sides of the aisle.

“As long as President Trump continues to stoke everyone’s emotions and sow division — on the left and the right — and there is no reason to think that he will suddenly change in temperament and tenor, voters — on the left and the right — will be mobilized in 2020 and, this time around, the math looks even worse for the GOP than it did in 2016,” Lee said.

AsAmNews has Asian America in its heart. We’re an all-volunteer effort of dedicated staff and interns. Check out our Twitter feed and Facebook page for more content. Please consider interning, joining our staff or submitting a story.

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