When I saw this Medium article posted titled “The potential power of Asian-American voters in the 2020 election,” I was reminded of and learned some interesting and frustrating facts about Asian American involvement and engagement in politics, which has motivated me ever since I myself became more politically involved starting in 2004 and blogging about it since 2007):
- Nearly 7 in 10 Asian-Americans don’t vote. According to the Cooperative Congressional Election Study (CCES), only about 1 in 3 (34%) of Asian-Americans voted in 2018. This is on par with average turnout of Asian-Americans from 2006 to 2016 (33%). By comparison, in the same period of 2006 to 2016, national turnout was 53%.
- Asian-Americans are not only less likely to vote, but are also less likely to be politically active. Among major racial and ethnic groups, Asian-Americans were least likely to have attended a political meeting, put up a political sign, work for a candidate, attend a political protest, contact a public official, or donate money to a political candidate in the past year. Indeed, despite relatively high wealth, Asian-Americans’ average contribution to candidates was $41, the lowest of all major racial and ethnic groups, and 45% less than the national average of $76.
The voter turnout was what I was really disappointed in. I have blogged about that in the past, but it is always disappointing to read.
Because of low Asian American political engagement, it’s no surprise that Asian Americans don’t donate much, and when they do, donate much less.
Another thing that the article highlighted, and I have read and see myself, is that Asian Americans are the fastest growing demographic in the nation, and within some swing states, can make a huge difference given how close the race is. The example the article gave was:
“In these ten states, Asian-American voters would only need to average 32% turnout to match the margin of victory for each state; but in each of these states, Asian-American turnout in 2016 was lower than that of the state average. For example, in Michigan, the margin of victory was under 11,000 votes (10,704). In 2016, Asian-American turnout was 24%, less than half of the overall turnout (57%). If Asian-Americans had simply voted at the same turnout rate as the rest of the state, over 51,350 votes would have been cast, or nearly 5 times the margin of victory.”
In a recent national poll, Asian Americans favor Biden 52% to Trump’s 34%. If more Asian Americans are voting, especially in swing states, they can make a HUGE impact even though the relative population may be small (Michigan’s AAPI electorate is 3.5% of the total electorate).
As always, I encourage all Asian Americans to become more civically engaged, because we still have a lot of catching up to do. As the saying goes, “If you’re not at the table you’re on the menu.” If you think America is not paying attention to Asian Americans, maybe not enough Asian Americans are paying attention to what is going on in America.