Survey: Fastest growing racial group offers political opportunity

Asian-Americans could represent a pivotal voting bloc this election cycle, a new survey conducted by Lake Research Partners reveals.

On Tuesday, the nonpartisan Asian-American Justice Center and the Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote (APIAVote) released a survey highlighting voting trends within the community which, the U.S. Census reported, grew 46 percent — “more than any other race group” between 2000 and 2010 — to over 17 million.

Lake Research Partners President Celinda Lake explained that the Asian-American population is a vote worth tapping into.

“Asian-Americans are the fastest growing in terms of the percentage they will play in electorate and the population — in the future, as well as today,” Lake explained on a conference call with reporters.

“So despite the growing trends, the growing presence — and there are some office holders obviously that are coming out of the Asian-American community — we are seeing that Asian Americans are lagging behind in political participation and visibility.”

According to the research, while Asian-American voters overwhelmingly identify as Democrats — at a rate three times more than Republican — the Democratic Party only reached out to less than a third in the last two years and the GOP reached out to just 37 percent of Asian-American and Pacific islander (AAPI) Republicans. Independents rarely heard from either.

While the bloc is largely Democratic, the survey showed there is room for political movement, with nearly 24 percent noting they have no opinion of GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney and 5 percent revealing they have never heard of him. Meanwhile, President Barack Obama enjoys a 73 percent favorability percentage in the community, though many are less enthused about his job performance — particularly with regard to the economy.

“Presidential candidates and political parties ignore Asian-American voters at their own peril,” Lake said. “While Asian-Americans and Pacific islanders seem to prefer Democratic candidates, many don’t really know the differences between Democrats and Republicans, because they haven’t been engaged by either party. There’s a real opportunity there to define the debate.”

According to the survey, 27 percent of Asian-Americans and Pacific islanders remain undecided this presidential election — 37 percent are undecided but lean a certain way. Five out of six intend to cast a ballot.

APIAVote Acting Executive Director Christine Chen noted in a statement that the bloc could play a role in states like Florida, Nevada and Virginia.

“Every vote counts, especially in a tight election. If AAPIs vote at the same level they did last time, it could mean increasing margins for the party they prefer — 47,000 more votes in Virginia than last election, 33,000 more in Florida and 9,000 more in Nevada,” she said.

The poll surveyed 1,100 Asian-American and Pacific islander registered voters across the country in April 5-15, 2012.

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