Asian-Americans Have Had the Sharpest Shift Toward Democrats

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Posted on May 19, 2014

Source: New York Times

Asian-Americans make up the racial or ethnic group that has shifted most strongly toward the Democratic Party since 2000. They are also the country’s fastest-growing racial or ethnic group by percentage.

Researchers at Gallup think part of the shift stems from many Asian-Americans’ affinity for President Obama, a fellow member of a minority group who spent part of his childhood in Asia. But Gallup says the move toward Democrats also reflects many Asian-Americans’ opposition to core tenets of the Republican party — which suggests major challenges for Republicans in winning over the group.

In 2008, 62 percent of Asian-American voters backed Mr. Obama. In 2012, the number jumped to 73 percent, according to Edison Research exit poll data.

Religion also plays a role, according to Gallup’s analysis, which was released Friday at the annual conference of the American Association for Public Opinion Research in Anaheim, Calif. A majority of Asians in the United States are non-Christian, and many are not particularly religious. A party that has evangelical Christians as a core constituency, as the Republicans do, has the potential to alienate Asian-Americans.

Likewise, the Republican Party’s resistance to an overhaul of immigration laws may not sit well with a group that contains many immigrants or descendants of immigrants. Asian-Americans are growing at a rate even faster than Hispanics.

These findings were the result of analysis of nationwide interviews conducted by Gallup throughout 2013.

Unfortunately, polls that allow for deeper analysis of Asian-Americans’ views are quite rare partly because Asian-Americans make up only about 5 percent of the country’s population. Gallup surveyed roughly 4,000 Asian-Americans in 2013 for its analysis.

The many Asian languages also present a problem for pollsters when dealing with new arrivals from Asian countries. Pollsters typically want to offer respondents the opportunity to complete the survey in their native language. Not only do survey firms need to translate the questionnaires into multiple languages, but they must also find fluent interviewers to conduct the interviews.

Gallup does not conduct surveys in Asian languages, which it acknowledges as somewhat of a drawback to its data. However, Pew Research conducted a survey in 2012 in seven Asian languages, and the findings were broadly similar. In the Pew survey, 50 percent of respondents identified with the Democratic Party, compared with only 28 percent who identified with the Republican Party.