On Sept. 25, the results of the 2012 National Survey of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders were released at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, DC. The survey was coordinated by UCR associate professor of political science Karthick Ramakrishnan and UC Berkeley professor of political science Taeku Lee.
The purpose of this year’s survey was to collect and document the voting stances of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) in the areas of public policy. The National Asian American Survey (NAAS) collected data from 3,376 telephone interviews, which were conducted from July 31 to Sept.19, 2012.
In regards to the upcoming election, the survey showed that the AAPI supported Obama over Romney, 43 percent to 24 percent. However, the undecided 32 percent of AAPI voters will play an important role in battleground states.
“AAPIs are already an important political constituency in various states, like California, Hawaii, New York, New Jersey, Illinois and in many large cities. They could also easily swing the election in states like Nevada, North Carolina and Virginia–especially because nearly a third of Asian American voters were still undecided on the presidential race after the party conventions,” Ramakrishnan said.
On public policy issues, the national survey showed overwhelming Asian American support for affirmative action. AAPIs also stated that the economy, unemployment and health care, respectively, were the most important problems in the United States. While poverty/inequality, race/racism and immigration were stated as some of the least important problems.
Ramakrishnan continued, “Thinking more about the long term, Asian Americans represent the future of the U.S. electorate. Usually, people’s voting patterns when they enter the political system tend to remain in place years and even decades later, so political parties that invest in these communities stand to reap rewards in the long term.”
There are over 18 million Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders living in the United States. Between 2000 and 2010, the AAPI population increased by nearly 46 percent. According to Ramakrishnan, AAPIs currently comprise about 6 percent of the US population, which is much smaller than the 12 percent for African Americans and the 16 percent for Latinos. However, they are the fastest growing racial group and are increasingly becoming an influential part of the electorate.
In the live webcast, Yul Kwon, the PBS television host and former deputy chief in the FCC, stated, “This year, a record number of AAPIs are running for office and these numbers show that we are an important and a rapidly growing electorate. But until now, very little about the needs, concerns, and opinions about AAPIs has been documented,” Kwon continued.
A similar national survey was conducted in 2008, which was notable for being the first nationally representative political survey of Asian Americans. The 2012 survey has since expanded to include several other Asian ethnic groups, such as Hmong and Cambodian, as well as Pacific Islander groups such as Samoans and Native Hawaiians.
An in-depth report of the survey’s results can be found at www.naasurvey.com.