In 2012, Asian-Americans were huge Obama supporters. In the end the very diverse group only gave 31% of it's vote to Romney. It didn't matter in states like California, New York, Illinois and Texas, with their massive Asian-American population. California, New York, and Illinois were going big for Obama anyway and Texas was in the pocket for Romney no matter how many Laotians and Vietnamese voted for Obama. But in swing states like Nevada, Virginia and North Carolina, Asian-American votes are vital in putting together a winning coalition. Trump has managed to alienate Asian-American voters without understanding that. As we explained after he insulted Filipino-Americans, a socially conservative group that has always been strong for the GOP, voters are utterly turned off by Trump's racism, bullying, xenophobia and his fingers and immature foreign policies.
The just-released National Asian American Survey shows Hillary ahead of him by a 43-point margin among registered Asian-American voters. The polling was done between August 10 and September 29– in 11 languages. Just half the number of voters who backed Romney plan to vote for Trump. Hillary leads him 59-16%. Karthick Ramakrishnan, the survey's director, said that the big defection from the GOP this year was all about Trump. “Trump's unfavorables,” he emphasized, “are like nothing we've seen before.” He leads Clinton in unfavorables 67-36%.
Nevada has is a swing state with 6 electoral votes that Trump desperately needs. But the presidential race isn't all that's going on there. There's a crucial Senate race and 2 Republicans congressional incumbents are struggling to fight off strong Democratic challenges. It isn't likely that loud Trump backers Cresent Hardy and Mark Amodei (Trump's Nevada campaign chairman) will survive November and the open seat south of Vegas (Henderson and below) will probably go from red to blue as well. Asian-Americans are part of the good news for Democrats in the state.
On paper at least, Asian-Americans seem like perfect Republicans. Many are small-business owners. Their communities tend to be more culturally conservative. And a lot of them, having fled oppressive communist governments, found comfort in the Republican Party’s aggressive anti-communist policies.
But in what could be a significant realignment of political allegiance, Asian-Americans are identifying as Democrats at a quicker pace than any other racial group. And many Republicans worry this election will only accelerate that trend, damaging their party for years to come with what is now the fastest-growing minority in the country.
The Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump, is not helping. His attacks on the Chinese– which he has sometimes delivered in a crude, mocking accent– are a feature of his populist campaign. He has suggested cutting off immigration from the Philippines, citing fears that the longtime U.S. ally poses the same national security threat as countries like Syria and Afghanistan.
Trump’s talk of deporting millions of undocumented immigrants has also stirred up painful memories among a group that has been singled out under U.S. law before, whether by the Chinese Exclusion Act, which barred the immigration of Chinese laborers until 1943, or by the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.
“It’s like we’re going back in time,” said Marc Matsuo of Las Vegas, who grew up in Hawaii with parents of Japanese ancestry and recalled how his family used to feel uncomfortable expressing their heritage, to the point they would not speak Japanese. He now helps register Asian-Americans to vote. “I was always brought up that you don’t talk about religion, you don’t talk about politics. Not anymore.”
Though Asian-Americans are still just 4 percent of the overall eligible voting population, their political power is concentrated in important swing states like Nevada and Virginia, where both parties have been building on their efforts to reach out.
In and around Las Vegas, home to one of the country’s largest Asian populations, this means printing campaign leaflets in Korean, having a Vietnamese translator on standby at speeches, publishing op-ed articles in the local Filipino newspaper and hiring employees who know enough Mandarin to recruit voters at the Chinatown seafood market.
Hillary Clinton’s campaign has a resident staff member in Las Vegas dedicated to Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders. Staff members and volunteers here speak Chinese, Korean, Hindi and Tagalog, the Filipino language. The campaign has recently been conducting native language training on how to use voting machines in a local Chinese cultural center. Volunteers are sent to court supporters in Buddhist temples.
Though Trump’s campaign announced a new Asian Pacific American Advisory Committee last week, a Republican National Committee spokesman, Ninio Fetalvo, said Trump’s outreach to Asian-American voters had been coordinated until now mainly through two staff members at the party’s Washington headquarters. The party, he added, has also printed materials in a variety of Asian languages in cities like Las Vegas.
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.
…As Asian-Americans have replaced Hispanics as the nation’s fastest growing racial group, Nevada has become the center of their emerging political class. Asian-Americans are now about 7 percent of the electorate in the state, a figure that is expected to double by 2060.
Democrats and Republicans have concluded that winning in closely divided Nevada requires performing strongly among Asian-Americans: The state’s Republican senator, Dean Heller, carried Asian-Americans when he narrowly won in 2012. And Harry Reid, the state’s long-serving Democratic senator who is retiring, performed even better with them than he did among Hispanics in his 2010 election.
None of which is lost on the two candidates vying to succeed Reid: Rep. Joe Heck, the Republican, employs an aide who speaks Mandarin and has made Kamayan dinners– traditional Filipino banquets– as much a campaign staple as marching in parades. And Catherine Cortez Masto, the Democrat, grew up in the Las Vegas neighborhood that has since become the city’s Chinatown, with Korean barbecue restaurants, Vietnamese noodle bars, foot spas and Chinese arches. When she attended a lunar celebration last month, she spoke in English as someone translated her words into Vietnamese.
As much as Trump’s positions seem to be driving Asian-Americans into the Democratic Party, the group defies easy political categorization. Many Koreans are evangelical Christians. Filipinos overwhelmingly belong to the Roman Catholic Church. Many Vietnamese who emigrated during the war identify closely with the Republican Party’s anti-communism.
“In general, Asian values are very much in line with Republican values: family, education, the country needs to be stable,” said James Yu, a member of the Las Vegas Asian Chamber of Commerce, which has endorsed Heck in the Senate race. Notably, it has not backed Trump.
By November, about 9.3 million Asian-Americans will be able to vote nationally, or 4 percent of the eligible voting population. That is up from 8 million in 2012. And that growth has spawned new civic organizations, like the nonpartisan Asian Community Development Council in Las Vegas, which aims to boost the group’s low voter turnout. Only 47 percent of eligible Asian-Americans voted in 2012.
Vida Chan Lin, the group’s founder, said that her message each time she goes out to register Asian-Americans to vote– in casinos’ employee lunchrooms, in Chinatown shopping malls and at employee orientations for businesses like the Panda Express fast-food chain– is that they have to harness the power of their growing numbers.
“We’ve got to get them to vote,” Lin said in her office, which was humming with volunteers planning registration drives, as well as follow-up calls as reminders to vote.
One positive consequence of Trump’s divisiveness, she said, was that interest in the election is like nothing she has ever seen. And the chatter about it follows her everywhere, she added: “When I went to China, they were talking about it.”
|Hardy– always channeling the hatred and bigotry|
One of the congressional districts where there are lots of Asian-American voters is NV-04, where primitive, bigioted Trump-fanatic Cresent Hardy was accidentally elected in 2014. Blue America has endorsed his progressive opponent, state Senator Cresent Hardy– you can contribute to his campaign here– and, as one of the leaders of the Democrats in the state legislature, he's very aware of the contributions Asian-Americans, almost 5% of the district's population, have made in Nevada. “The Asian American Pacific Islander community,” he told me today, “is the fastest growing voter block in Nevada and will be critical for our success this election. Trump and Hardy's hateful, racist rhetoric and policies offend many AAPI voters to the core. Democrats can't just count on the anti-Trump vote among AAPI voters but it offers a golden opportunity for us to make our case and provide a brighter vision for all Americans.”
Certainly, all over the country, Chinese-Americans are well-aware that Fox is the mouthpiece of the Republican Party. Many were offended by the Jesse Watters piece from Bill O'Reilly's show a couple days ago. The foremost Chinese-American member of Congress, Ted Lieu (D-CA) told us that “When the GOP Presidential nominee and his enablers run a racist and bigoted campaign, guess what, Americans notice, including Asian Americans. The GOP mantra to Asian Americans that we want you to join us but first we want to deport your children doesn't actually work well as a message. Asian Americans are now a sizable and critical swing vote in battleground states such as Nevada and Virginia. That's one reason Donald Trump will lose those states.”
“When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross.” — Sinclair Lewis