By Louis Chan, AsAmNews National Correspondent
A poll of 1675 Asian Americans and 41 Pacific Islanders found 1 out 5 Asian American Pacific Islander voters were first time voters in 2020. That translates to up to 1.5 million new voters, something that Taeku Lee of Asian American Decisions called “a real high number.”
The survey by Asian American Decisions and the AAPI Civic Engagement Fund was conducted just one day before Election Day. Experts presented and analyzed the poll’s results in a conversation Thursday morning.
Significantly, results found greater voter outreach by both parties toward AAPI voters.
51 percent of those polled said they were contacted by a political party or community group compared to about one-third of those polled in 2016. The pollsters believe this greater outreach by Democrats and Republicans, together with efforts by AAPI community groups, led to greater voter participation by Asian Americans.
The same poll also found high engagement of Asian American voters in areas of the country not known nationally for their Asian American communities. This happened in states such as Georgia, Virginia and Texas.
41% of Asian American voters polled in Georgia were first time voters. Among those sampled, more than 300 voters belonged to Georgia’s District 7, a historically swing district.
Democrat Carolyn Bourdeaux currently leads that race 51 – 49% over Rich McCormick. The pollsters believe Asian Americans are providing Bourdeaux her current lead.
Asian Americans voted 62% to 36% for Bourdeaux, representing 17% of her total vote and accounting for 150% of her current winning margin. The analysts say if Asian Americans had not voted at all, Bordeaux would be losing 52% to 48%.
The poll of the voters in Georgia also found Asian American voters there encountered numerous instances of racism. 43% of those polled said they were subjected to slurs or jokes based on race and 23% were victims of physical assault or battery. 75% of Asian American voters said discrimination was among the most important issues they considered when deciding their vote. This data is similar to what the pollsters found nationally.
Stephanie Cho of Asian American Advancing Justice, Atlanta, credited bilingual voting materials provided by community groups with helping to increase voter participation in Georgia.
In Texas, Deborah Chen of the Civic Engagement Program for OCA-Greater Houston says its reached 210,000 Asian American households with voting materials. She said the turnout in Harris County alone almost doubled.
She also talked about examples of voter suppression including people driving around in pick up trucks with flags and guns through Asiatown.
Tram Nguyen, Co-Executive Director of the New Virginia Majority Education Fund said “nothing replaces that face to face” contact with voters. She described the AAPI community in Virginia as “deeply engaged.”
The AAPI Civic Engagement Fund and Asian American Decisions also found the coronavirus pandemic, jobs, the economy, and health care costs were among the four top voting issues in 2020 for Asian Americans.
The poll revealed Asian Americans voted for Joe Biden over Donald Trump 68% to 28%.
Breaking that down even further, 29% of Asian Americans who identified as Republicans voted for Joe Biden, according to the poll.
Additionally, 56% of all those surveyed voted for the Democratic Senate candidate while the Republican candidate received the support of 35% of those polled.
66% of Asian Americans surveyed casted their vote for the Democrat running for the House of Representatives seat compared to just 29% for the Republican candidate.
The Asian American sample was 23% Chinese American, 20% Indian American, 15% Filipino American, 14% Vietnamese American, 12% Korean American and 12% Japanese American. The poll in GA-07 comprised 302 Asian American voters, weighted to match the demographics of the district.
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