Rarely does the topic of Asian Americans and the U.S. presidential elections come up, but this is not a normal election. Specifically, Republican candidate Donald Trump is not your normal candidate. The Times did a nice article outlining the growing political trends of Asian Americans to lean Democratic and that Trump is helping that trend:
“Republicans’ difficulties with Asian-Americans are similar to those the party has faced with most minority groups. A sense that the party is hostile to immigrants and minorities has driven more Asian-American voters into the Democratic Party lately, political scientists and community leaders said. And if Republicans do not make more of an effort, those voting shifts could harden, just as Hispanics’ voting patterns have.
“What we see now are some early indications that people who either leaned toward the Democratic Party or did not identify with either party are now starting to identify as Democrats,” said Karthick Ramakrishnan, a professor of political science at the University of California, Riverside. “This is still a group that is making up its mind,” he added, “but it should be concerning to the Republican Party that you’re starting to see this crystallization.””
“In Nevada and Virginia, two states where polls show the presidential race is down to single digits, the Asian-American population sits at 8.5% and 6.5% respectively—higher than the national average of 5.6%—and is climbing. That works out to hundreds of thousands of voters in states where the contest will be decided by thin margins and may help determine the next president.
On the national level, Hillary Clinton’s campaign employs a director of Asian-American and Pacific Islander outreach, who oversees field programs concentrated in Virginia and Pennsylvania, to which they are bussing Asian volunteers from nearby New York and New Jersey. The campaign has a separate staffer specifically directing such efforts in Nevada.”
This past September, Trump’s campaign did finally announce their Asian Pacific American Advisory Council:
“Donald J. Trump is pleased to announce his Asian Pacific American Advisory Committee. The women and men on the committee are elected, appointed and grassroots leaders who will engage Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) on relevant issues to these important and vibrant communities. Governors Eddie Calvo and Ralph Torres of Guam and Northern Mariana Islands (NMI) respectively, will serve as the Council’s Co-Chairs.”
“The meeting follows a survey released in early October that showed Trumptrailing Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton by 41 points among registered Asian-American voters. The meeting was also a day before the third and final presidential debate, also to be held in Las Vegas.”
The complete set of slides can be found here. What I find interesting is that foreign born Asian Americans tended to like Clinton more than native-born Asian Americans, and the opposite view for Trump – which is much more unfavorably by native-born Asian Americans than foreign born Asian Americans. Given Trump’s anti-illegal immigrant rhetoric, you would think foreign born Asian Americans would find Trump more unfavorable.
Then again, I have heard that there has also apparently been a relatively strong Chinese American grassroots group of supporters (usually foreign born Asian Americans):
“Like Zeng, an immigrant from China who lives in San Diego, many of Trump’s Chinese American supporters are relatively recent arrivals from mainland China with strong nationalistic leanings, a certain reverence for wealth and a firm belief that U.S. immigration laws should be followed.
Many say they have been politicized by recent battles over affirmative action on college campuses, where some Chinese Americans fear their numbers are being held down by efforts to advance other ethnic and racial groups. That issue, along with a recent controversy over the police shooting of an unarmed man by a Chinese American police officer in New York, has opened fissures in the Chinese American community between older, more progressive generations and newer, more conservative arrivals.”
I’ve been told have a few popular U.S.-based WeChat groups to discuss their support. Overall though, the data clearly shows that Asian Americans have been leaning strongly Democratic, and I will be surprised if Hillary Clinton doesn’t do better than Obama’s 71% of the Asian American vote.
In fact, Clinton has been a very strong supporter for Asian Americans and back on January 7th of this year, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton launched her AAPI outreach efforts in San Gabriel:
and had hired back in August 2015 an AAPI Outreach Director. And in that speech, Clinton reminded the audience that her husband, President Bill Clinton, was the first to start the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, back in 1999.
Even back in May (which seems like a lifetime ago), a survey was done, and Trump was overwhelmingly seen as unfavorable by Asian Americans:
“Only 19 percent of Asian Americans hold a favorable view of the presumptive Republican nominee, according to a survey of more than 1,000 registered Asian Americans conducted by three Asian-American NGOs, while 61 percent view him unfavorably.
That’s nearly the opposite of Hillary Clinton, who is viewed favorably by 62 percent of Asian Americans — one of the fastest-growing minority populations in the country — and unfavorably by 26 percent.”
So it’s no surprise that The Republican Party is concerned as to what Trump is doing to the their brand, and more importantly, how Asian Americans are voting – especially in key swing states of Nevada and Virginia. But at the time of this writing, Virginia looks to be a clear win for Clinton and Nevada is still borderline, but leaning Blue. I anticipate that Clinton will surpass Obama’s 71% of the Asian American electorate.