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Why Asian Americans Fled The Republican Party

07 Nov

In the 2012 election, President Obama got 73% of the Asian American vote. Looking at the anti-immigrant and anti-minority message, that somehow Asians are “coming here” and taking jobs from white folks…

Is a driving reason, along with the use of Asians as the “Model Minority” wedge against all other minorities in racially coded right wing arguments.

Why Asian Americans don’t vote Republican

During the recent No Labels-hosted Problem Solver Convention in New Hampshire, things got a little uncomfortable.

When Joseph Choe, an Asian-American college student, stood up to ask a question about South Korea, Donald Trump cut him off and wondered aloud: “Are you from South Korea?”

Choe responded, “I’m not. I was born in Texas, raised in Colorado.” His answer prompted laughter from the audience, and nothing more than a shrug from the GOP presidential candidate.

A fellow conference attendee who walked by Choe subsequently joked, “You’re gonna have to show him your birth certificate, man!”

Although Trump probably did not intend to offend, this interaction likely reminded Choe and other Asian-American voters that being Asian often translates to being perceived by fellow Americans as a foreigner.

However innocuous Trump’s question may seem, this is exactly the sort of exchange that could, in part, be pushing Asian Americans – the highest-income, most-educated, and fastest-growing segment of the United States – toward the Democratic Party by landslide margins.

n the 2012 presidential election, Barack Obama won 73% of the Asian-American vote. That exceeded his support among traditional Democratic Party constituencies like Hispanics (71%) and women (55%).

Republicans should be alarmed by this statistic, as Asians weren’t always so far out of reach for Republicans.

When we examine presidential exit polls, we see that 74% of the Asian-American vote went to the Republican presidential candidate just two decades ago. The Democratic presidential vote share among Asian Americans has steadily increased from 36% in 1992, to 64% in the 2008 election to 73% in 2012. Asian Americans were also one of the rare groups that were more favorable to President Obama in the latter election.

The hated question

Asian Americans are regularly made to feel like foreigners in their own country through “innocent” racial microaggressions. Microaggressions are “everyday insults, indignities and demeaning messages sent to people of color by well-intentioned white people who are unaware of the hidden messages being sent.” An example is being asked “Where are youreally from?” – after answering the question “Where are you from?” with a location within the United States. Another is being complimented on one’s great English-speaking skills. In both cases, the underlying assumption is that Asian Americans are outsiders.

According to a 2005 study by Sapna Cheryan and Benoit Monin, Asian Americans are right to feel excluded. The study shows Asian Americans are seen as less American than other Americans.

A 2008 study by Thierry Devos and Debbie Ma confirmed this result. The study found that in the mind of the average American, a white European celebrity (Kate Winslet) is considered more American than an Asian-American celebrity (Lucy Liu).

But while Asian Americans are perceived as less American by other ethnic groups, Cheryan and Monin found that Asian Americans are just as likely as white Americans to self-identify as American and hold patriotic attitudes. This makes attacks on their identity as Americans hurtful…

When we examined the 2008 National Asian American Survey (NAAS), a nationally representative sample of over 5,000 Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, we found that self-reported racial discrimination, a proxy for feelings of social exclusion, was positively correlated with identification with the Democratic Party over the Republican Party.

Analyzing the NAAS data, we find that racial discrimination is not rare. Nearly 40% of Asian Americans suffered at least one of the following forms of racial discrimination in their lifetime:

  • being unfairly denied a job or fired

  • being unfairly denied a promotion at work

  • being unfairly treated by the police

  • being unfairly prevented from renting or buying a home

  • treated unfairly at a restaurant or other place of service

  • being a victim of a hate crime.

Republicans have positioned themselves, in trying to solidify the white southern vote – as the Party least likely to defend rights, and resist discrimination.

 

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