AALDEF 2010 Exit Poll of Asian American Voters Shows Strong Approval for Dems in Northeast, Support for Republican Govs in the South

While Asian Americans strongly supported Democratic gubernatorial candidates in New York Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania, Asian American voters in Georgia and Texas mirrored the broader electorate by favoring Republican candidates for Governor, according to preliminary results of the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) exit poll released today.

AALDEF conducted the five-state multilingual exit poll of over 3,500 Asian American voters in collaboration with 30 national and local community groups, the largest nonpartisan poll of its kind in the nation.

The 2010 exit poll was conducted in five states with large or fast-growing Asian American populations:  New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Texas and Georgia.  The five largest Asian ethnic groups polled were Chinese (42%), South Asian (25%), Korean (17%), Filipino (6%), and Vietnamese (3%).  Among those polled, 60% of Asian Americans were registered Democrats, 19% were not enrolled in any political party, and 14% of Asian Americans were registered Republicans.

In the traditionally Democratic northeastern states of New York and Massachusetts, Asian Americans voted overwhelmingly for Democratic candidates Andrew Cuomo in NY (Cuomo-82%, Paladino-13%) and Deval Patrick in MA (Patrick-84%, Baker-14%).  Cuomo won the election 61% to 34%, and Patrick was re-elected with a 6-point margin, 48% to 42%.  In New York, AALDEF’s exit poll was conducted at 18 poll sites in Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn.  In Massachusetts, AALDEF polled voters at 4 sites in Boston and Lowell.

In a carefully-watched New York State Senate race, Democratic candidate Tony Avella unseated long-time Republican incumbent Frank Padavan in Senate District 11 in Queens.  Padavan had been criticized by community groups for his anti-immigrant positions.  According to a local poll conducted by AALDEF community partner MinKwon Center for Community Action, 89% of Korean American voters favored Democratic candidate Avella, and 11% of those polled supported Padavan.  Avella defeated Padavan by 53% to 47% of all district voters.

In Pennsylvania, among Asian American voters polled at 4 sites in Philadelphia’s Chinatown and Upper Darby, PA, 78% voted for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Dan Onorato, with 18% supporting Republican candidate Tom Corbett. Corbett won 54% of the Pennsylvania vote, with 45% for Onorato.

Asian American voter preferences in Texas and Georgia more closely reflected the broader state electorates that have traditionally favored Republicans.  Asian American voters favored the re-election of Republican Governor Rick Perry by a small margin (Perry-50%, White-48%); Perry was re-elected by a vote of 55% to 42%.  In Georgia, Asian American voters favored Republican candidate Nathan Deal (50%) over Democratic candidate Roy Barnes (46%).  Deal won the gubernatorial election 53% to 43%.  Asian American voters in Texas were surveyed at 7 poll sites in Houston and Sugar Land.  In Georgia, the AALDEF exit poll was conducted at 4 sites in the Atlanta area:  Suwanee, Doraville, Norcross and Duluth.

AALDEF also monitored almost 50 poll sites for compliance with the Voting Rights Act and Help America Vote Act (HAVA).  Volunteer attorneys checked the provision of Asian-language ballots, interpreters, signs and voting materials, which are required in certain districts; improper requests for voter identification, and whether provision ballots were offered to Asian Americans whose names did not appear on voter lists.  Examples of voting problems observed on Election Day included:

New York:

  • Widespread complaints about the illegible paper ballots in New York City, because Chinese/Korean characters and English-language fonts were too small
  • In Manhattan’s Chinatown, I.S. 131 had only English and Korean-language voting instructions available for the predominantly Chinese American voters at this site.
  • Asian American voters complained about rude conduct by poll workers at I.S. 131 in Manhattan’s Chinatown and P.S. 94 in Sunset Park, Brooklyn
  • Despite federal mandates under the Voting Rights Act, several interpreter shortages were reported, including at P.S. 20 in Manhattan’s Lower East Side (no Chinese interpreters; 3 required); P.S. 12 in Woodside, Queens (2 Chinese interpreters; 4 required)

Pennsylvania:

  • At Benjamin Franklin House in Philadelphia, an Asian American couple came to vote; the wife’s name was on the voter list, her husband’s name was not.  Poll workers turned away the husband and did not give him a provisional ballot, as required under HAVA.
  • At Lowell Elementary School in Philadelphia, Khmer and Vietnamese translators were not present at the poll site.  When Cambodian American voters asked for assistance, poll workers did not know what to do or referred them to some hotline without any instructions.
  • Also at Lowell Elementary School in Philadelphia, an Asian American voter needed her son to help her vote because she was limited English proficient.  She was told to wait over an hour until after several others voted.

The 2010 multilingual exit poll was conducted at 34 poll sites in 8 languages and dialects:  Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Khmer, Bengali, Punjabi, Urdu, and Gujarati.  AALDEF has conducted exit polls of Asian American voters in every major election since 1988.  In the 2008 Presidential elections, AALDEF polled 16,665 Asian American voters in 11 states. Copies of AALDEF’s past exit poll and election monitoring reports can be found at http://www.aaldef.org/publications/ under “Voting Rights.”

The co-sponsors of the multilingual exit poll and Asian American election protection project include: National: APIA Vote, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, OCA, South Asian Americans Leading Together.  New York:  Asian American Bar Association of New York, Asian American Studies Program–Hunter College, Chhaya CDC, Korean American Voters’ Council, Filipino American Human Services, Inc., Filipino American Legal Defense and Education Fund, MinKwon Center for Community Action, Muslim Bar Association of New York, National Federation of Filipino American Associations-Region One, SEVA, South Asian Bar Association of New York, South Asian Youth Action.   Pennsylvania: Asian Pacific American Bar Association of Pennsylvania, Asian Pacific American Law Student Association at UPenn Law, OCA Greater Philadelphia Chapter, Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation. Massachusetts: Asian Outreach Unit, Greater Boston Legal Services, Asian Community Development Corporation, Asian American Lawyers Association of Massachusetts, Chinese Progressive Association, Mass Vote.  Georgia:  Asian American Legal Advocacy Center of Georgia, Center for Pan Asian Community Services, Georgia Asian Pacific American Bar Association, OCA Georgia Chapter.  Texas:  OCA Greater Houston.

The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), founded in 1974, is a national organization that protects and promotes the civil rights of Asian Americans.  By combining litigation, advocacy, education and organizing, AALDEF works with Asian American communities across the country to secure human rights for all.

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