HomePoliticsThe AAPI vote is the biggest takeaway from Rep. Suozzi's win

The AAPI vote is the biggest takeaway from Rep. Suozzi’s win

After a campaign that garnered strong support from Asian American voters, Democratic Rep. Tom Suozzi is heading back to Congress, replacing former GOP Rep. George Santos. This victory offers a compelling example for other candidates looking to tap into this diverse and growing voter bloc in upcoming elections.

Suozzi beat Republican nominee Mazi Pilip by an 8-point margin to secure the 3rd Congressional District spanning eastern Queens and Nassau County. Asian American represented a crucial mass in the district, making up more than 20% of the voting population, according to Gothamist.

Ahead of Tuesday’s special election, Politico reported that Suozzi’s outreach efforts strongly targeted the Asian American population, including Lunar New Year events, an AAPI Day of Action, and a Chinese language news media roundtable with lots of food. All with Rep. Grace Meng, who represents the neighboring 6th Congressional District in Queens, by his side.

Meng is the first and only Asian American woman to represent New York in Congress. According to NBC News, Meng said she tells Asian Americans that they can be the “margin of victory” if they come out to vote. She praised Suozzi’s campaign for its commitment to a high level of authentic outreach. 

“We’ve been having fun with the different, diverse Asian community groups — dim sum events, Korean barbecue, Korean fried chicken. He’s been going to South Asian restaurants and [on] small-business walks; meeting with religious leaders,” NBC News reported Meng saying on the trail.

Ultimately, Suozzi led his opponent Pilip in the district’s diverse population of Asian American voters by 60% to 25%.

Meng hopes that Suozzi’s campaign can serve as the baseline for the necessary outreach to AAPI voters during future elections. “We are always trying to remind candidates on both sides of the aisle how important it is to reach out to the Asian community,” she said to NBC News, “and that there are polls that show that most Asian voters in any given election around the country do not hear from either party.”

Suozzi’s victory demonstrates the importance of tapping into the Asian American voting bloc. A 2022 survey conducted by Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote found more than half of Asian American voters said they’d never been contacted directly by either political party, reported Gothamist.

“AAPI voters are swing voters, and they need to see early and consistent outreach on all fronts,” Linh Nguyen, executive vice president of the AAPI Victory Fund, a political action committee that supports AAPI engagement, told Gothamist.

City Councilmember Shekar Krishnan, the first Indian American elected to the New York City Council, celebrated Suozzi’s win on X, he wrote, “The biggest takeaway from Suozzi’s win was that you can’t ignore Asian American voters.”

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