ISABELLA LEE WRITES –The 2022 mid-term elections are fast approaching, as political polarization is at an all-time high and the Democrats’ narrow majority in the House and Senate are hanging on by what seems like a singular thread. Candidates and party leaders are looking toward an emerging voter group that has become hyper-visible in the past year—Asian Americans.
Asian Americans are the single fastest growing population in the United States. They have grown nearly 81% since 2000 and are expected to double, in overall population, by 2060, making them key to both voter turnout and party demographics. This is why they have a growing electoral influence that has become increasingly apparent in the last two election cycles.
In 2016, 49% of the Asian American population reported they had voted compared to 59% in 2020. This increase proved to be bigger than that of the African American turnout from 2004 to 2008, when Obama ran for his first term. In addition, Asian Americans proved their growing electoral influence in 2020 when they voted for Biden by 2 to 1 margin, which was extremely important in key battleground states such as Nevada and Arizona. Much of the growth of the Asian American population is happening in Republican states such as North Dakota and Indiana, as well as purple states.
Within the Asian American community there is a diversity of views, however. Vietnamese and Filipino Americans have a 48% favorable view of the Republican party. This vastly differs from the 14% of Japanese and 20% of Chinese Americans that have a favorable view of the Republican party. Democrats have closed this gap since Trump’s time in office, as nearly two thirds of Asians favor the Democratic party. But this does not mean Democrats can bank on Asian American votes in mid-term elections, as the Republican party is expanding its marketing to include Asian American, in an attempt at a vote grab.
Trump, though, eroded much of the GOP’s attempt to gain the Asian American vote. During his time in office, he incited an increase in violence and hate towards Asian Americans by spreading racist and xenophobic epithets. These remarks peaked during the COVID-19 pandemic when he continuously referred to the coronavirus as the “China Virus” and “Kung Flu”, placing the blame for the pandemic solely on the backs of Asians. And his anti-immigration stance did not resonate well within the Asian American community.
It is unclear whether the Democrats will lose their majority on Capitol Hill come 2022, but what is clear is that the Asian American vote will play a pivotal role in the outcome. The so-called “model minority,” then, may influence the majority vote and become instrumental in paving America’s future.