Poll Finds Asian Americans Largely Went for Obama, But Not ‘Fully Engaged by Either Party’

Asian Americans voted for President Barack Obama in enormous numbers this election, according to the Asian American Election Eve Poll, a joint project of the National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development (National CAPACD) and Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF). While only 41% identify as Democrats, Asian American voters broke for Barack Obama by a huge margin, with 72% voting for the President and 26% for Mitt Romney. In Congressional races, 73% of Asian American voters backed Democratic candidates, while 27% backed Republicans.

National CAPACD found that an incredible 51% of Asian American voters were not asked by any campaign, political party or community organization to vote or to register to vote.

“Mitt Romney had room to win the overlooked Asian American community,” said Lisa Hasegawa, Executive Director of the National CAPACD. “While Barack Obama’s narrative attracted Asian American voters, Mitt Romney missed an enormous opportunity to offer a direct appeal to this group.”

“Community organizations’ efforts are especially critical in getting Asian Americans to the polls when traditional party vehicles ignore this demographic,” said Hasegawa. “National CAPACD supported 25 groups in 14 states over the election season to help educate Asian American and Pacific Islander voters and get them to the polls on Election Day.”

The Asian American Election Eve Poll surveyed 800 Asian Americans over the pre-election weekend.

“Asian Americans lost 54% of their wealth between 2005 and 2009, mostly due to the foreclosure crisis,” said Hasegawa. “Therefore, it is no surprise that Asian American voters name the economy as their number one issue of concern or that they believe that government has a responsibility to help low-income households.”

Asian American voters also overwhelmingly named the economy as their top priority, and supported an expansion of the federal government’s program to help low-income people pay rent.

Asian American voters are not fully decided on how to reduce the deficit. 26% of Asian American voters favor increasingly taxes on the wealthy in order to reduce the deficit, while 45% would like to combine these tax hikes with spending cuts — but a strong 71% do not think spending cuts alone will solve the budget deficit. In California, 73% of Asian Americans voted in favor of Proposition 30, a temporary tax on the wealthy to help fund education and public safety.

Asian Americans likely sided with Barack Obama in part due to his healthcare platform — 60% responded that the government should ensure access to health insurance. Yet while jobs, housing and healthcare were critical issues for Asian American voters, they were also drawn to Barack Obama over Mitt Romney for a less tangible reason — while 47% felt the President “truly cares about them,” only 14% said Mitt Romney did.

“The results of the poll show that Asian Americans remain a persuadable voting bloc that has yet to be fully engaged by either party” said Congresswoman Judy Chu, Chair for the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus. “As we shift from the election to finishing our business in this lame duck session, this poll gives policymakers a better understanding of how Asian Americans view policy priorities for our communities – from addressing the housing crisis to passing comprehensive immigration reform.”

“Asian Americans were hit hard during the recession — and this poll shows that they are focused on finding solutions to the economic downturn,” said Congressman Mike Honda, Chair Emeritus for the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus. “This poll provides critical information about what’s important for Asian Americans and should be used as a resource for elected officials as they develop policies that will have an impact in our communities.”

The detailed findings of this in-depth research will be released today, November 7, at 12 PM PST/3 PM EST during a webinar. To register, go to: https://www4.gotomeeting.com/register/127010519. The results will also be available here at nationalcapacd.org.

About The Asian American Election Eve Poll. National CAPACD and AALDEF contracted with Latino Decisions, an opinion research firm, to conduct a nonpartisan survey of Asian American voters. The poll is meant to provide a more accurate profile of the Asian American electorate and its voting preferences.

About National CAPACD. The National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development (National CAPACD) was founded in 1999 with the mission to be a powerful voice for the unique community development needs of AAPI communities and to strengthen the capacity of community‐based organizations to create neighborhoods of hope and opportunity.

Source: National CAPACD press release

Majority of Asian Americans Support Race-Conscious Admissions Policies

In anticipation of the upcoming U.S. Supreme Court case Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, the Asian Pacific Americans in Higher Education (APAHE) and National Commission on Asian American and Pacific Islander Research in Education (CARE) have released policy papers examining Asian American support for race-conscious policies. [Editor: This is cross-posted from the AALDEF blog.]

Both papers cite multiple surveys of Asian Americans that consistently demonstrate that a majority of Asian Americans oppose abolishing race-conscious admissions policies. Furthermore, both papers identify fatal flaws underlying claims in one recent amicus brief to the Supreme Court that relied upon a survey of Asian Americans and race-conscious policies that dramatically departed from accepted methodological standards and yielded results at odds with the weight of available evidence.

“We support the current law that race can be one of many factors colleges consider to attain campus diversity,” said Margaret Fung, Executive Director of the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), which announced that it will be filing an amicus brief in Fisher, urging the Supreme Court to uphold UT-Austin’s race-conscious policies. “We believe the Asian American community continues to support policies that promote equal educational opportunity.”

The APAHE paper (download PDF) cites a Voter News Service/Los Angeles Times poll which found that a majority of Asian Americans demonstrated support for race-conscious admissions policies by rejecting Proposition 209 in California, a measure that prohibited public universities from considering race in admissions: “Polls by the Voter News Service/L.A. Times and the Field Institute reveal that among Asian American voters, support for Prop 209 was only in the range of 39% to 44%.” AALDEF’s exit polls also found that 75% of Asian American voters in Michigan rejected Michigan’s Proposal 2, a similar state referendum seeking to ban race-conscious policies.

The CARE paper (download PDF) presents results of a multi-city survey of Asian Americans by the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research, where 63.1% of Asian Americans indicated that affirmative action “is a good thing” as opposed to 5.7% who reported that it is a “bad thing” and 18.6% who reported that it “doesn’t affect Asian Americans.”

Given this data’s consistency, the APAHE paper finds “frankly impossible” the claim of political action group 80-20 National Education Foundation (80-20) that Asian American respondents oppose affirmative action by a ratio of 52:1. 80-20, which filed its own amicus brief opposing race-conscious policies in Fisher, bases these claims on a web survey it sponsored. Ethical and research flaws leading to the lopsided results – including 80-20’s political bias and “unethical practice” of publicizing the full name and race of all participants on its website — are detailed in both papers.

According to the Federal Judicial Center’s (the research and education agency for the federal courts) Reference Manual on Scientific Evidence cited in the APAHE paper, “self-selected pseudosurveys resemble reader polls published in magazines and do not meet standard criteria for legitimate surveys admissible in court.”

“As someone who has long championed and advocated for the rights of Asian Americans in higher education, I am deeply concerned about 80-20’s position on this issue,” said Dr. Bob Suzuki, President Emeritus of California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. “Based on my experience in higher education for some 33 years, I know that race-conscious policies have provided greater equal opportunity for the vast majority of Asian Americans, not only for students, but also for faculty and staff. As the APAHE and CARE papers indicate, 80-20’s arguments are seriously flawed and must be challenged.”

Last week, the Pew Center issued a national report on Asian Americans which correspondingly found that the number of Asian Americans who believe they are discriminated against under the current admissions policies is extremely low. A majority of participants (61%) believed that being Asian has no impact in collegiate admissions, and most of the remainder (20%) believed that being Asian can be a helpful factor. Only 12% believed it hurts to be an Asian applicant.

“As with any complex issue, the diverse Asian American community has a wide range of opinions on the issue of race-conscious admissions policies. Both the APAHE and CARE papers provide clarity on the Asian American community amid much misinformation,” said Khin Mai Aung, director of AALDEF’s Educational Equity Program.

The APAHE paper was drafted by APAHE board member William Kidder, who is also the Assistant Executive Vice Chancellor at the University of California Riverside.

The CARE paper was authored by CARE Principal Investigator Robert T. Teranishi, who is an associate professor of higher education at New York University and author of Asians in the Ivory Tower: Dilemmas of Racial Inequality in American Higher Education.

AALDEF’s Khin Mai Aung on WBAI Radio

Khin Mai Aung, the Director, Educational Equity Project, at Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund was on WBAI, a Pacifica radio station in New York City, discussing the Pew report on Asian Americans. Will post a link to the audio file if one becomes available.

UPDATE: Here’s the audio file.