Asian Americans supported Democrats in elections: Polls

Updated: 2014-11-07 07:40

By NIU YUE in New York(China Daily USA)

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Asian American voters in 11 states and Washington largely supported Democratic candidates in the 2014 mid-term elections, according to preliminary results of an exit poll, and a poll on election eve showed that Asian Americans in three states - California, Texas and Virginia - favored Democratic candidates over Republicans by 2 to 1.

The exit poll released on Wednesday by the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund(AALDEF) was a multilingual survey of over 4,200 Asian-American conducted by AALDEF in New York, Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Texas, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Georgia, Louisiana and Washington. The poll showed 59 percent of the Asian American were registered Democrats and 26 percent registered as Republicans. Final results of the poll will be released on Friday, including the margin of error, according to AALDEF, which provides support for Asian Americans on civil liberties and voting problems.

The second poll, done by Asian American Decisions, a joint multi-language effort by research company Pacific Market Research and three university professors, surveyed 1,150 Asian Americans between Oct 30 and Nov 4 in the three key states. It showed that in races for the US House of Representatives, 66 percent of Asian Americans voted for Democrats and 34 percent for Republicans. The poll's margin of error was 4 percent. That poll also showed respondents strongly support Obamacare, immigration reform and the use of affirmative action in college admissions.

According to the 2010 Census, there are about 17.3 million Asian Americans in the United States, or 5.6 percent of the total population. They are the fastest-growing electorate group, the AAD report said. In the 1996 presidential election, Asian Americans accounted for 1.6 percent of all votes cast. In the 2012 race for the White House, the percentage more than doubled to 3.4 percent.

In contested states, "Asian American numbers are not as large, but every vote will matter," Margaret Fung, executive director of AALDEF, said in an interview on Tuesday.

Asian Americans supported Democrats in elections: Polls

In Virginia, the AALDEF poll showed Asian-American voters favored US Senate Democratic candidate Mark Warner 66 percent to 33 percent for his Republican opponent, Ed Gillespie. The AAD poll in Virginia gave a similar result: 68 percent to 29 percent.

Warner defeated Gillespie by a margin of 0.77 percent. According to the 2010 Census, 5.5 percent Virginia's population is Asian American.

The AAD exit poll also surveyed Asian-American voters'opinions on social issues and the respondents showed a liberal preference.

President Barack Obama's healthcare plan received 52 percent support, compared with 37 percent opposing it. Comprehensive immigration reform, which would include an eventual path to citizenship, was supported by 60 percent versus 26 percent who said no. Asian Americans overwhelmingly supported raising the hourly minimum wage to $10.10 from $7.2 5 by 74 percent to 18 percent, and affirmative action on college admissions, 63 percent to 26 percent.

For the 2016 US presidential election, the AAD poll showed Asian Americans favoring former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton by62 percent. As for Republican hopefuls included in the survey -- Former Florida governor Jeb Bush, Kentucky US Senator Rand Paul, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Texas US Senator Ted Cruz and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal -- none received a favorability rating of more than 25 percent, the survey showed.

"Asian Americans know who she (Clinton) is and most like them, but she cannot take them for granted," said Taeku Lee, a political science professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and a researcher with Asian American Decisions.

Lee said the turnout rate for Asian Americans has been historically low compared with other ethnic groups. In the 2010 mid-term election, the Asian-American turnout rate was 30 percent, while the percentage for whites was 48 percent, according to the Washington Post. In 2012, the turn out for whites was 64 percent to 47 percent for Asian Americans, according to the newspaper.

Fung said voter registration rate among Asian Americans needs to be increased and then political parties need to motivate them to vote.

Lu Huiquan in New York contributed to the story