By Louis Chan, AsAmNews National Correspondent
An exit poll conducted of the 2021 Democratic mayoral primary in New York City shows an Asian American electorate divided by ethnic subgroup.
The survey conducted by the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund in multiple languages found the majority of Chinese and Korean American voters chose Andrew Yang as their candidate of choice.
Bengali American voters favored Eric Adams while Indian American voters liked Maya Wiley.
68% of Chinese American voters surveyed say they cast their ballots for Yang as their first choice while 50% of Korean American voters said they same thing.
40% of Bengali American voters named Eric Adams as their top choice and 33% of Indian American voters favored Maya Wiley.
Jerry Vattamala of both AALDEF and the Democracy Project suspects ethnic affinity to Yang may have swayed voters in the Chinese and Korean American community. He believes Bangladeshi American voters, who tend to be in blue collar profession, may have been influenced by union endorsements of Adams.
“Bangladeshi voters are so politically organized and sophisticated,” said Vattamala to AsAmNews. “It’s really great to see. Many are in labor unions and they vote as a block more than other Asian groups.”
For the first time, voters in New York were asked to rank candidates in their order of preference. Once a candidate is eliminated, that candidate’s votes go to the 2nd choice candidate.
Yang and Katherine Garcia teamed up, with each telling their supporters to name the other as their second choice. That may have benefitted Garcia who was the 2nd ranked candidate among 22% of Asian American voters in the survey.
Garcia currently is in 2nd place with 48.9% of the vote to Adams 51.1%.
Final results may be weeks away, which is typical of ranked choice voting. The upside is eliminating the need for a runoff election.
The winner will go up against Curtis Sliwa, the winner of the Republican primary. He is the founder of the Guardian Angels.
The AALDEF survey also found the top three issues for Asian American voters were the economy, anti-Asian hate crimes and other issues ranging from political representation to public safety and police reform.
22% of the voters surveyed said they personally experience Anti-Asian violence/harassment. 9% of Bangladeshi Americans who answered yes to that question said they were physically assaulted compared to 6% of Chinese Americans.
68% of Bangladeshi Americans who answered yes said they experienced verbal harassment compared to 75% of Korean Americans, 70% of Chinese Americans and 50% of Indian Americans.
The survey did not break out results for Filipino Americans due to a small sample size.
1386 voters were surveyed in English, Chinese, Korean and Bengali at 16 poll sites in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens.
The results of this survey come just days after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld new voting restrictions led by Republicans in Arizona which critics say will reduce the number of votes from Asian Americans and other people of color.
17 states have passed a total of 28 voting restrictive laws, according to the Brennan Center.
“All of these things will have an impact on Asian American voters and people of color,” Vattamala said.
He specifically pointed to Georgia and Texas as two states where Asian American voters will feel the impact. Both states played critical roles in the 2020 election. The election in Georgia of two Democratic senators swung the upper house to the Democrats.
“There’s no evidence of voter fraud and what the court said, you don’t need evidence of voter fraud. All this voter fraud talk is just a pretext to make it more difficult of people of color,” he said.
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