Asian American Vote Could Swing Tight Elections
The Asian Pacific American Legal Center reports that the number of Asian American voters have been steadily climbing in the past 10 years and may make a decisive difference in this year's upcoming elections.
LOS ANGELES — The Asian Pacific American Legal Center (APALC), determined that more Asian Americans are voting than ever before.
In a paper entitled Asian Americans at the Ballot Box: The 2008 General Elections in Los Angeles County, the APALC said that the number of Asian Americans voting in the elections climbed steadily in the past 10 years. In LA County alone, a record total of 283,000 Asian Americans cast their votes in the 2008 elections.
In an election that might turn out to be a tight race to the finish, different ethnic voter groups, like the Asian American Pacific Islanders (AAPI), might just swing the tide and win the presidential seat for either President Barack Obama or Republican nominee Mitt Romney.
An increase in efforts to reach out to these AAPI groups could prove to be the shot in the arm that would power either candidate to victory, come November.
AAPI population could turn the tide
An argument for the AAPI population could be made, in the sense that their growing numbers have reached "tipping-point" population levels in battleground or swing states, according to a report by NBC's Richard Lui.
In Lui's report on NBCNews.com, he used Florida as an example, a state where AAPIs are 3 percent of the total population, according to information from the Asian American Center for Advancing Justice. It's a relatively small number but Obama won Florida in 2008 by only 2.5 percentage points.
Likewise, in Nevada, where AAPIs are only 9 percent; Obama won by 12.4 percentage points. In Virginia, where the Asian Americans number to around 7 percent, Obama won by only 6.3 percentage points.
Lui laid out another perspective with which we could examine the impact of the growing AAPI population in the election. In the nine battleground states covered by NBC News in 2008, Obama won by a popular margin of victory of almost 1.6 million votes.
The Asian American population in those states in 2010, said Lui, was pegged at 2.3 million. Even after taking out from the equation the AAPIs below 18 years old, or roughly 25% of the 2.3 million,that leaves us with 1.73 million voters — a number that is still larger than Obama's margin of victory in those crucial states.
These numbers, as explained by Lui, emphasize the fact that the growing numbers of AAPIs in America are capable of delivering the deciding votes in a closely-fought election — which is what the November polls are shaping out to be.
Among the existing and emerging Asian American communities in the country, the number of AAPIs in the US continues to grow. Amounting to nearly 15.5 million people nationwide, Asian Americans comprise 5 percent of the total population.
According to the 2008 population estimates of the US Census Bureau, the largest community of Asian Americans can be found right here in Los Angeles County.
In APALC's Asian Americans at the Ballot Box paper, it was found that the number of AAPIs voting in both the Presidential and Gubernatorial Elections across the Los Angeles County has steadily increased over the past decade. From 211,181 voters in the year 2000 Elections, an increased number of 293,043 Asian Americans cast their votes in the 2008 Elections.
Fil-Ams show significant degree of involvement
APALC noted in their paper that Filipino-Americans, the second largest Asian American electorate in LA County, voted in large numbers in cities across the county — including Los Angeles, Carson, and Long Beach.
The LA County Voter File from the LA County Registrar of Voters note that of the 293,043 Asian Americans who cast their ballots in the 2008 General Elections, 24 percent of that are Filipinos — second only to the Chinese who made up 29 percent of the voters.
This high degree of voter turnout among Pinoys is pegged at 76 percent, a number that closely matches the turnout of all registered in the county, which is at 78 percent.
Among all Asian American communities, Filipinos were rated as the most politically involved segment of the AAPI population in LA County during the 2008 Elections. Following second are the Asian Indians, with 75 percent of their number casting votes. The turnout rate for the entire Asian community in LA County is rated at 71 percent.
Given these numbers, Mee Moua of the Asian American Center for Advancing Justice in Washington, D.C. said in an interview with NBCNews.com that Asian Americans need to be closely considered by the candidates for the upcoming elections.
"As we head toward election day, candidates and political parties will step up their voter engagement efforts," Moua told NBCNews.com, "Those who want to succeed will recognize the importance of the Asian American voter. Those who ignore us, do so at their own peril."
Mico Letargo is a writer for Asian Journal.
Photo from Asian Journal.
This article originally appeared in Asian Journal.
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