US political parties overlook Asian American vote
Updated: 2012-05-02 13:18
WASHINGTON - US Asian American voters are an afterthought of the Democratic and Republican parties, even though this fastest-growing ethnic group are expected to vote in record numbers in November's presidential elections, a poll has found.
The poll, conducted by Lake Research Partners and under the auspices of the Asian American Justice Center and APIAVote, found that close elections in important states like Nevada, Florida and Virginia could go to the candidates who best engage the group.
"Presidential candidates and political parties ignore Asian Americans at their own peril," said pollster Celinda Lake. "While Asian Americans and Pacific islanders seem to prefer Democratic candidates, many don't really know the difference between Democrats and Republicans because they haven't been engaged by either party."
The poll, whose results were released Tuesday, found that Asian Americans identified with the Democratic Party three times more than with the GOP (the Republican Party), but less than a third of Asian Americans were contacted by the Democrats in the last two years.
Nearly three in 10 respondents said they have no opinion of the leading GOP challenger Mitt Romney. And while Asian Americans like President Barack Obama -- nearly three-fourths view him favorably -- they are less kind when it comes to rating his job performance, the study found.
Despite knowing little about each party, five out of six Asian Americans said they will vote in this November's elections, and half expressed enthusiasm to vote.
"Taking these votes for granted...will have a big impact in the long run, because (Asian American voters) are very loyal," said Mee Moua, president of the Asian American Justice Center. "They're looking for leaders who will stand up for them and address their issues."
One example of growing Asian-American political power occurred when Michigan Senate candidate and former House Representative Pete Hoekstra aired an anti-Asian ad during the Super Bowl this year, attacking his opponent Senator Debbie Stabenow.
The ad featured an Asian American woman wearing a straw hat and speaking broken English. Following its airing, Asian Americans contributed to Stabenow's campaign in large numbers, outpacing ordinary fundraising levels, the report's authors said.
Moua said that if candidates address the community's issues, there's a lasting benefit because Asian American voters are younger than the general population and have roots spread across the country.
Moua said Asian American voters are looking for candidates who will stand up for the middle class and treat all Americans fairly, and that the most important issues to them are the economy, health care, education and immigration.