Trendspotting: The Asian vote leaves Republican Party
The Asian vote is up for grabs as Asians begin to slowly lean toward the Democratic Party.
This is interesting news, considering Asians have typically voted for Republican candidates. But the question is, does this shift matter?
Forty-seven percent of Asian voters consider themselves Independent, which suggests almost half of Asian voters are already willing to change directions.
“I can’t speak for most Asians,” accounting senior Dana Nguyen said, “but I don’t think that people fall into any particular party, rather we take parts from each one.”
Asians are the only demographic to have undergone dramatic changes in voting patterns in the last few decades.
According to NPR, “in 2012, nearly three-quarters of Asian-American voters went for President Obama. But, rewind — 20 years prior — and you’ll find fewer than a third voted Democrat.”
But how significant is this change in elections?
After all, Asians make up less of the electorate than, for example, Hispanic voters.
According to the Pew Research Center, “with an estimated 9 million eligible voters in 2014, the Asian-American electorate for…midterm elections make up four percent of all eligible voters. By contrast, Hispanics—the largest minority groups…make up 11.3 percent of all eligible voters.”
Moreover, they have a much lower turnout – at least in midterm elections.
A Pew Research Center analysis reveals that “about three-in-ten Asian-American eligible voters have cast ballots in midterm elections since 1998, a much lower turnout rate than that of whites and blacks…”
Statistically, Asians do not vote because as Nguyen said, “I don’t vote because I don’t have the time.”
This response is not limited to Asians, but it does underline a major issue in Texas: the astonishing low voter turnout.
Nevertheless, the Asian vote does matter.
Asians are expected to vote more in the upcoming election. Asian-Americans recently passed Hispanics as the largest group of new immigrants to the United States. While it may not become apparent until they are able to receive citizenship, the fight for the vote of these new citizens will likely become a new battleground for future elections.
If the Republican Party plans to reclaim these voters, they must stop alienating these potential voters.
“It doesn’t help when a Republican presidential candidate like former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush attempts to clarify his use of the term ‘anchor babies’ — which many Latinos find offensive by redirecting the conversation to Asians,” said Christine Chen, director of Asian-Pacific American Islander Vote.
Whether or not Asians will become what the Hispanic vote today is unclear, but what is clear is that political divides are far from permanent.
Opinion assistant editor Sarah Kim is a political science major senior and may be reached at [email protected]