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Asian-American Voter Turnout Doubles in Battleground States

In California, politicians long ago learned the importance of appealing to Asian-American voters. Now the rest of the country will have to figure it out too.

By Francie Diep


(Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Some California politicians have long had to learn how to appeal to Asian-American voters, particularly in districts such as Orange County, which has a large and politically active Vietnamese-American population. After all, one-third of Asian Americans live in California. But now, it looks like politicians nationwide will want to follow California’s lead.

In early voting, roughly twice as many Asian Americans have turned out in the battleground states of Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia, compared to the last general election, the Associated Press reported yesterday. Georgia has seen a rise of almost 300 percent in Asian-American votes. Although Asian Americans make up just 3 percent of the voting population — and tend to register to vote at lower rates than black and white Americans — that share is expected to grow in the future. Even now, the Asian vote can be enough to swing results in state congressional races, Karin Wang, vice president of programs and communications for Asian Americans Advancing Justice Los Angeles, told the Los Angeles Times.

Have other politicians taken notice? “Asian American registered voters are the least likely to be contacted by political parties,” Karthick Ramakrishnan, a public policy researcher at the University of California–Irvine, told the Los Angeles Times. Still, both the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Republican National Committee have run Asian-American and Pacific Islander outreach projects, the Wall Street Journal reported in September. The Donald Trump campaign announced an Asian Pacific American Advisory Committee less than six weeks before Election Day.

The Journal cited Nevada and Virginia as targets for outreach, so perhaps Clinton’s and the RNC’s work played a role in the numbers the Associated Press noted yesterday. Polls show Clinton leads among Asian Americans, many of whom are concerned about Trump’s racist rhetoric.