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Asian-American Voters to Double by 2040

José Díaz-Balart talks to Paul and Elena Ong, co-authors of a new study that shows the Asian-American electorate will more than double by 2040. Rep. Mike Honda, whose district has a majority Asian-American population, also joins the conversation.Gregory Bull / AP

Asian Americans will grow from 4 percent of the electorate to 7 percent in the next 25 years, at a faster pace than the group’s overall population growth, according to a new report by the UCLA Study for the Center for Inequality and the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies.

While the Asian American population is expected to grow by 74 percent, the registered voter growth is expected to rise by 107 percent to 12.2 million people by 2040.

“For me, the value of doing this research was to understand how fast we’re growing,” said Elena Ong, the report’s co-author to NBC News. “Asian Americans are a swing vote, and that in itself makes the Asian American vote growth a game changer.”

Ong said the numbers will change, but so will the makeup of the Asian American voter.

Currently, of 5.9 million Asian American registered voters, just 38 percent are American born.

Foreign-born Asian Americans make up 62 percent of registered voters.

The study predicts by 2040, the gap between foreign-born to American born will narrow to 53 percent foreign-born to 47 percent American-born.

Ong said for the short term current candidates will have to be more nuanced because of the language preferences and cultural differences among the larger foreign-born group.

But the long-term strategy is different.

“The political party that wants to win in the future needs to start now, to cultivate future voters, those who will be 47 percent U.S. born, and younger,” Ong said.

Ong said the report’s numbers come at an historical time when the nation is celebrating both the 50th Anniversary of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 which opened up immigration from Asian American countries, and the 50th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act.

“Were it not for the Immigration Act and the Voting Rights act, we would not have the poltical power we have today,” said Ong, who cited 6 million registered voters, and more than 4,000 Asian American office holders.

But the future looks to be even brighter.

“In 2040, 1 out of 10 Americans will be Asian American, and 1 out of 3 Asian Americans will be a registered voter,” Ong said.