It was the primary that was supposed to give Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, a scare. But the incumbent Republican sailed through easily and is expecting to do the same against a Democrat in the fall. So without much of an electoral threat, Cornyn is now attempting to expand his party’s base with Asian voters. In Texas.
(The senator launched a Spanish-language site in April, though it declines to mention his vote against the bipartisan, comprehensive immigration bill.)
On Wednesday his re-election campaign launched a Chinese-language website, as first reported in The Dallas Morning News. This serves as a counterpart to the Vietnamese-language website the campaign launched in July, all in an attempt to reach out to Asian-American voters.
“We need to show the Republican Party has interest in their community, language and customs,” Cornyn’s campaign manager Brendan Steinhauser told The Dallas Morning News.
That’s because Asian voters, in droves, have opted to vote for Democrats, at least in presidential elections, in recent years. When talking about GOP outreach to black voters for a Whispers story last week, Lorenzo Morris, a political science professor at Howard University, noted that the biggest untold story in shifting voting blocs was how Asian-American voters have deserted the Republican Party.
“[The GOP’s] greatest loss would be the huge turn that they experienced, and don’t necessarily talk about, in Asian-American voters switching from almost 50-50 [voters] to overwhelmingly Democratic in response to their policies,” Morris says.
Russell Jeung, a professor of Asian-American Studies at San Francisco State University, explains why Cornyn specifically targeted Chinese and Vietnamese Americans. When it comes to Vietnamese Americans, many of these families fled from Communism, and thus “they are more inclined to vote Republican,” Jeung says. Chinese-Americans share some similarities with the GOP, including strong family values, but their views are evolving.
“The Chinese-American population is shifting as a second generation comes to vote,” Jeung says. “They tend to become more liberal.”
As far as policies are concerned, Jeung says that the anti-immigrant talk coming from the Republican Party hasn’t helped attract voters in Asian-American communities because many of them come from immigrant families.
“This anti-immigrant rhetoric of the Republicans really hurts them,” he says. “They need to soften their language.” There’s also been plenty of rhetoric from Republicans demonizing China, which in turn turns off Chinese-Americans voters, Jeung adds. Finally, many Asian-American voters are pro-big government and were for Obamacare, not stances exactly in line with the Republican party.
That all being said, the new websites, Jeung says, are a good start.
“Asian-Americans are really heavy Internet users, that’s the medium you want to use,” he says. “It can’t hurt. It doesn’t cost that much to create a website.”
The national Republican Party vowed to expand its appeal to minority voters following Mitt Romney’s loss in the 2012 presidential election, but has struggled to succeed in doing so.