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Exit Polls Show Asian Americans Backed Obama by Wide Margin

People celebrate in Times Square after Barack Obama was projected to win the U.S presidential election in New York, November 6, 2012.
People celebrate in Times Square after Barack Obama was projected to win the U.S presidential election in New York, November 6, 2012.
Exit polls suggest Asian Americans overwhelmingly voted for President Barack Obama in Tuesday's election that handed the incumbent Democrat a second term in the White House.

Preliminary national exit poll data suggested that 73 percent of Asian Americans voted for President Obama, while only 26 percent supported his Republican rival, Mitt Romney.

The figures were in line with the voting decisions of other larger U.S. minority groups. Seventy-one percent of Latinos said they supported Obama, while 93 percent of African Americans reported voting for the president.

The exit polls also reflected data from an election eve poll conducted by Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) and the National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development (National CAPACD).

According to their polls, which were conducted in Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese, Asian-Americans backed Barack Obama by a three-to-one margin over Mitt Romney even though only 41 percent of Asian-Americans say they tend to vote Democratic.

"The Asian American community was poised to be a swing vote in key states," said Margaret Fung, AALDEF Executive Director. "One-fifth of Asian Americans in yesterday's election were also first-time voters. Yet they came out in huge numbers for President Obama."

The Asian-American vote has grown 128 percent since 1996, making them the fastest growing minority in the U.S. in terms of percentage, according to the AALDEF. Still, they only make up about three percent of the overall vote, but that is expected to grow to as high as seven percent in coming years.

Observers said both the Obama and Romney campaigns spent relatively little time trying to attract the votes of Asian Americans. According to the polls, 47 percent of Asian-Americans thought Obama cared about Asian-American issues and only 14 percent thought Romney did.

"We're hoping to change that," said Lisa Hasegawa of National CAPACD, adding that political parties need to realize that the impact of the Asian-American vote is growing. In swing states like Nevada and Virginia, Asian-Americans could effect an election outcome, she said.

According to the AALDEF polling, the issues most imporant to Asian-Americans are fixing the economy, health care, education reform and immigration. For example 60 percent of those surveyed said the government should have some role in providing health insurance.

On immigration, 35 percent of those polled said they were "more enthusiastic" about Obama because of his decision to temporarily suspend the deportation of young immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents, so called deferred action.