Asian-American Voters Tip Toward Dems Headed into 2016 Election: Study

Image: Chinese Americans vote in San Franciscos Chinatown
Despite Asian-American Republican organizers' belief that voters of Asian descent share the party's values on education and the economy, the GOP has seen support from this demographic steadily wane since 1992, a year when some 55 percent of Asian Americans voted for Republican President George H.W. Bush, according to the Roper Center.LOU DEMATTEIS / REUTERS

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By Charles Lam

Asian-American voters headed into the 2016 elections are shifting toward the Democratic Party, according to a report released Monday by APIA Vote, Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC, and AAPI Data.

The report — which surveyed 1,212 voters and was conducted in English, Cantonese, Mandarin, Korean, and Vietnamese — also found that a majority of voters disliked Donald Trump, were more enthusiastic about voting compared to earlier elections, and — despite increased enthusiasm — had not been contacted by any political parties or civic engagement nonprofits.

Forty-seven percent of voters surveyed identified with the Democratic Party, a 12 percent growth compared to a 2012 post-election survey. The change corresponded to a reduction in voters who did not identify with either party. In the 2012 survey, 47 percent either identified as independents or did not have a party preference, while 37 percent of voters surveyed in 2016 did not identify with a party. The change in Republican Party voter identification fell within the margin of error of the 2016 study.

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Asian-American voters gave the Democratic Party an edge in approval in nearly every issue from education to social security and immigration reform while saying that the parties were evenly matched when it came to terrorism.

An excerpt of a 2016 APIAVote/AAJC/AAPIData study detailing favorability ratings of the Republican and Democratic Parties.

Voters surveyed also had negative opinions of presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, as well as all other former Republican presidential candidates. Sixty-one percent of voters said they had an unfavorable opinion of Trump, while 19 percent had a favorable opinion. No Republican candidate had a net favorable opinion.

On the Democratic side, both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders had net favorable ratings, with 62 percent saying they had a favorable opinion of Clinton and 48 percent having one of Sanders. Thirty percent of surveyed voters said they had no opinion or had never heard of Sanders.

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Rhetoric around immigration was a major issue for the Asian-American electorate. Forty percent of surveyed voters said they would vote for someone else if a candidate expressed strong anti-immigrant rhetoric, and 43 percent of voters said they would do the same if a candidate expressed strong anti-Muslim rhetoric.

An excerpt of a 2016 APIAVote/AAJC/AAPIData survey detailing voter contact from major political parties and community organizations.

But, despite 51 percent of surveyed voters saying that they were more enthusiastic about voting in the 2016 elections than previous elections, a majority of voters said they had not been contacted by any political party or by a community organization. Only 33 percent of voters said they had had any contact from the Democratic Party, while 23 reported outreach from the Republican Party and 25 percent reported outreach from community organizations.

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