Capsules debriefing the elections from throughout the Asian-Pacific American community

Asian American Village Staff


The jury is still out on exactly how and in what numbers Asian Americans voted on Tuesday, but while number-crunching is underway the first, most “official” figure being reported is based on CNN/AP/Edison national exit poll data, finding that Asian Americans gave 68% of their three-party vote to Barack Obama, with the 35% going to John McCain, and 3% going to “Other” or else refusing to reply.  This is broad-stroke projecting, and was based on a sample in which Asian Americans constituted only 2% of respondents.  Overall, the “by race” tally (for the presidential race alone) looks like this:

  • White (74% of respondents) – 43% Obama, 55% McCain, 2% Other
  • African-American (13%) – 95% Obama, 4% McCain, 1% Other
  • Latino (9%) – 67% Obama, 31% McCain, 2% Other
  • Asian (2%) – 62% Obama, 35% McCain, 3% Other
  • Other Race (3%) – 66% Obama, 31% McCain, 3% Other

This finding — if it holds upon further and finer examination — indicates that the Asian American vote has maintained a leftward trend ever since a majority collectively backed George HW Bush against Bill Clinton in 1992.

Have Asian Americans been living up to our recent reputation as an “awakening political giant”?  One small, early hint reported on the New York Times City Room Blog suggests that this may not be the case, at least in the Big Apple.  According to the blog entry by “Jennifer 8. Lee”, increased about 3% over 2004, according to an analysis by the New Americans Exit Poll. However, immigrant turnout in NYC seems to be flat, while also significantly down — by 6.6% — in Asian-majority districts (before calculating absentee and paper ballot counts). Ugh.

The 8020 Initiative is commending the appointment of three Asian Americans to the Obama transition team and its advisory board.  It writes, “Pete Rouse, whose mother is a Japanese American, will be one of the 3 co-chairs, and Chris Lu, a Chinese American, will be the Executive Director of the transition team. Sonal Shah, an Indian American, is a member of the advisory board.”

The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) is crunching numbers from its 11-state exit poll surveys and reporting a number of obstacles APAs encountered on election day.  It has announced that a special toll-free , multilingual hotline (800-966-5946) will remain active to allow community members to report their election day experiences and voting problems.

APIAVote is cautiously proclaiming the success of efforts by its partners in 14 states to drive community turnout.  Observing that it still awaits reliable numbers to illustrate the real effectiveness of voter turnout and protection efforts, APIAVote emphasizes work on the ground in states like Nevada that it significantly boosted AAPI participation. “We were in Nevada since the January caucuses, and increased the AAPI turnout rate past their share of the Clark County population,” said board member Gloria T. Caoile. “We worked to sustain the excitement, registering new citizens, encouraging early voting, phone banking infrequent AAPI voters, and canvassing Las Vegas neighborhoods with high AAPI populations…While we are waiting for the final numbers to prove this, One APIAVote Nevada is a prime example of increased AAPI voter turnout this election year.”

While reveling in the Obama victory, APAs for Progress (whose board had voted to support the President-elect back in the primary season) is examining other election day results as well. These include the near-miss of its supported candidate, Indian American Ashwin Madia, in his three-way race for U.S. Representative (MN District 3), and the passage of California’s Proposition 8.

Asian American Action Fund is celebrating the Obama victory, and the fact that in a year of change, all of its endorsed Asian American and Pacific Islander Democratic incumbents won re-election relatively handily.  Among the APIAs returning to Washington will be Delegate E. Faleomavaega of American Samoa, unopposed U.S. Rep. David Wu of Oregon, U.S. Rep. Mike Honda of CA-15, U.S. Rep. Doris Matsui of CA-5, U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono of HI-2, and U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott of VA-3.

Otherwise, it was a year of “running in place” for Asian Americans seeking office — at least on the federal level. As Don Joe’s Asian American Politics tally of results for Asian American candidates shows, incumbents had no trouble holding their seats, but no newcomers managed to advance to Congress.  Asian Americans who had vied for Congressional seats in the primaries or the general included Ed Chau (R – CA-42), Raymond Chui (R – CA-13), Navraj Singh (R – CA-27), Hank Eng (D – CO-6), Ashwin Madia (D – MN-3), and Amit K. Singh (R – VA-8 Primaries).

Asian Americans for Obama is wrapping up its work with a prominent note of thanks from the President-elect’s siblings, Konrad and Maya, a list of members of the transition team and announcement of Chris’ Lu’s appointment as Executive Director, and ongoing discussion regarding the attack of a Japanese American woman by a man in Racine, Wisconsin during the final weeks’ canvassing.

In signing off on November 5, Asian Americans for McCain is thanking its supporters for participating in the “fight,” providing post-election observations from the key team members, and urging them to look ahead to 2010.  While some of the organizer comments are a good deal less gracious than their candidate’s concession speech, posted prominently at the top of the team’s site, all express a determination to continue organizing to build an Asian American presence for future elections.

The coalition at (South Asian Americans Leading Together) is reporting that this election “marks a turning point in the participation of South Asian American citizens in the American democracy.  We witnessed robust South Asian voter turnout at the polls on Election Day; steady involvement with political campaigns; and bids for local and national office on the part of South Asians.” It immediately issued a statement emphasizing that South Asians “look forward to engaging in dialogues around a range of policy issues and initiatives that will reform the immigration system, strengthen civil rights laws for all, provide adequate resources to challenge violence against women, and expand linguistically and culturally accessible services such as health care and education.”

AsianWeek columnist Emil Guillermo this week writes in his online column about his disappointment over th3e passage of Proposition 8, as well as his mixed pleasure and concern over the future of David Chiu, who won the race for District 3 Supervisor in San Francisco. In his analysis of the local race, Guillermo praises Chiu’s victory over notable candidates through waging a strong “Obama-like” campaign, but also finds a worrisome connection between Chiu and Supervisor Chris Daly, and hopes to see Chiu advance through a “practical yet progressive” path in “Obama’s new America”.

The Honolulu Advertiser is reporting the not-very-surprising but pervasive local pride islanders feel for the first Hawai’ian president, as well as excitement over the revivification of the local Democratic party, which had been in the low-turnout doldrums over the past few elections.  The Advertiser observes that the state gave Obama his highest margin (estimated at around 71%), and that in something of a reversal from 2004, it was Hawai’i Dems that were working feverishly, outreaching to GOTV among ex-pats and other APAs in mainland battlegrounds like Nevada (where Native Hawai’ians and APIAs make up about 6.5% of the population).