News / USA

Asian Americans Have Many of Same Election Day Concerns as Other Groups

Yun Wang, 63, laughs while voting with her husband Sung Wang (not pictured), 68, both of Central City, underneath a stuffed bobcat at the Central City Courthouse in Central City, Colorado, 2 Nov 2010
Yun Wang, 63, laughs while voting with her husband Sung Wang (not pictured), 68, both of Central City, underneath a stuffed bobcat at the Central City Courthouse in Central City, Colorado, 2 Nov 2010
Ira Mellman

As American voters head to the polls, many of the people making their choices have roots in Asian countries.

There are an estimated seven million Asian Americans eligible to vote. Of those, the US Census Bureau 2008 survey said almost four million were registered voters. Paul Ong is a professor of Asian American studies at the University of California at Los Angeles, UCLA.

"I would say that Asian Americans are still somewhat on the margin if you look at it broadly, nationally. They make up at most five percent of the voters," said Ong.  "But, in certain areas, they make up a substantial percentage of voters. So in the big urban areas, the Bay Area, Los Angeles, New York, there are essentially electoral districts, congressional districts, local districts where Asian Americans are very influential. They may not be in the majority, but they are swing voters. They can make a difference in those districts."

Professor Ong says to a great degree, which way these Asian Americans vote depends on from where they or their families are from.

"Clearly Southeast Asians lean toward Republicans," noted Ong.  "Many of them are political refugees, many of them coming over after the fall of Saigon. Many tend to be anti-Communist. They find within the Republican Party people who share their feelings in terms of their political view.  I think you have among Filipinos, Japanese and so forth a sense of past discrimination and that leads them to be more in line with the policies of redress, racial inequality and therefore they lean toward the Democratic Party."

A significant number of Asian American voters, especially from South Asia, are of the Islamic faith. Ahmed Rehab of the Council on American Islamic Relations says American politics over the past decade has led to a shift in Muslim political leanings.

"Before President Bush's first administration, it normally leaned Republican because of the family values," said Rehab.  "Since then, with the War on Terror, and the language that came out of that that failed to differentiate between terrorists and Muslims at large, Muslims increasingly felt uncomfortable with the Republican Party especially as the rhetoric continued to be anti-Muslim and started to vote more Democratic. So there's been a shift and increasingly so now with the Tea Party and what not."

What are these voters looking for from their politicians?

"For American Muslims, the biggest concern right now is the quality and tone of the debate," added Rehab.  "Whether this debate is on our national security, or our jobs or the economy or even the place of Muslims in America, our concern is that the nature of the debate in America has become more and more divisive, cynical, frenzied, paranoid, and we are very concerned about that and we wish that they debate itself, regardless of the positions people take, to be rooted in more intellect and empirical analysis and honest debate and mutual understanding."

As far as the overall Asian American population is concerned, Mini Timmaraju of the Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote organization says it's pretty much the same as a good portion of all American voters.

"I think it's the economy and jobs," said Timmaraju.  "We have data that indicates that, but we also know that's what the vast majority of Americans care about too and I don't think that Asian Americans are any different. They've been hit similarly by the economy and by the (unemployment) rate in the country."

Which leads to the question of whether Asian Americans voters will do what many in the US electorate are expected to do in this election, shift away from the party in power.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs