In the upcoming 2024 election, Asian Americans are emerging as an influential and sought-after voting bloc and one the Republicans need to embrace as a vital part of their campaign strategies.
Unlike other minority groups, such as African Americans, Asian Americans lack a deeply entrenched history of aligning with a single political party. This contributes to a higher degree of fluidity in their affiliations. The realm of politics has seen a surge in Asian American and Pacific Islander representation, ranging from Vice President Kamala Harris to underdog Republican presidential contenders Nikki Haley and Vivek Ramaswamy, all of whom share Indian heritage. This representation extends to various levels of government, including Congress and state legislatures.
This once-overlooked demographic has now outpaced Latinos as the fastest-growing segment of the United States population. Between the years 2016 and 2020, the Asian American voter turnout experienced a remarkable increase from 49% to 59%, marking the most substantial surge among all racial and ethnic groups, as stated by data from the Census Bureau.
However, the Democratic advantage is lower among older and less-educated Asian American and Pacific Islander voters, per the Pew Research Center. Among those under 30 years old, the preference leans Democratic by a substantial 77 points, while individuals aged 65 and above show a preference for Democrats by only 5 points. College-educated and post-graduate Asian American and Pacific Islander voters exhibit a 2-to-1 preference for Democrats, but those who did not pursue higher education lean towards the Democratic Party by only 4 points.
President Biden secured a sweeping victory among them by a margin of 72% to 28%. The unexpected turnout of this voter bloc played a decisive role in pivotal swing states like Georgia, Arizona, and Nevada.
Particularly in the critical state of Georgia, Asian American voter participation rose by 84% compared to the previous presidential election. Building on this momentum, Senator Raphael Warnock of Georgia, a Democrat, devised a unique strategy during his closely fought campaign. He crafted advertising campaigns in languages such as Mandarin, Korean, and Vietnamese, aiming to galvanize Asian American voters. This strategic move paid off as he managed to secure 78% of this voting bloc in the runoff election, ultimately leading to his triumph.
During the intensely contested 2022 Senate race in Nevada, the Asian American community constituted 10% of the electorate, totaling around 215,000 eligible voters. Out of this group, two-thirds cast their ballots for Democratic candidates, while 26% favored Republicans. In a race won by Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, a Democrat from Nevada, the victory margin stood at a mere 0.8 points, translating to fewer than 8,000 votes.
An estimated 62% of Asian Americans align themselves with the Democratic Party, while 34% align with the GOP. The Democratic Party maintains significant leads across almost all subdivisions of Asian American and Pacific Islander voters, encompassing those of Chinese, Indian, Filipino, and Korean descent. However, voters with Vietnamese heritage stand out as an exception, favoring Republicans by a margin of 9 points.
In a bid to narrow this Democratic advantage, Republicans are strategically working to emphasize culturally liberal attitudes, often referred to as “woke” in GOP circles. This approach aims to act as a wedge, appealing to conservative-leaning Asian American and Pacific Islander voters. Some Republicans contend that this demographic aligns more naturally with their party, leading to efforts to create resonance with their values.
In a nation where the last two elections hinged on margins of fewer than 100,000 votes, the estimated 24 million-strong Asian American community holds the potential to remain a significant force for years to come. Republicans would be advised to bolster efforts to secure the Asian American vote, especially in states undergoing a transition from red to purple, such as Georgia and Arizona, where Republicans are grappling with shifts in suburban support.
As the next campaign gains momentum, the undeniable political influence wielded by this voting bloc has become abundantly clear. The Democratic National Committee is embarking on groundbreaking efforts to engage and appeal to Asian American and Pacific Islander voters.
Republicans need to do the same.