November 01, 2021

AAPI Voting - What brings us together?

The diverse community that makes up the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community is coming together in a new way. More individuals are identifying as Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI). A recent poll from Politico and Morning Consult found that around two in ten AAPI adults “said they were more likely to identify with the AAPI community than they were before Covid-19”. Furthermore, the AAPI community is mostly in agreement on issues that affect the entire community, not just their ethnic group. They tend to take the views of the Democratic Party regarding these issues.

The past four years have visited increased hostility in word and act on many Asian American Pacific Islanders, much of it fueled by the fear of the Covid virus and the hateful rhetoric used by the previous Administration. In the Politico/Morning Consult poll, 71% of respondents saw the former president’s remarks against the AAPI community as a reason for the discrimination against the community. The anti-China and anti-immigrant rhetoric seemed to be why conservative Chinese-American voters turned against the former President. As members of the Republican Party continue to embrace this rhetoric, there could be a greater turn against the party among the AAPI community. APIA survey respondents indicated that they trust the Democratic Party more than the Republican Party on major issues like gun safety, immigration, healthcare, policing, and the economy. 

Despite these numbers appearing to be positive for Democrats, things can still change. Groups reaching out to the AAPI community will need cultural competency to understand how the community thinks, according to Madalene Xuan-Trang Mielke, president of the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies. However, there are challenges for mobilizing this community. The AAPI community, made up of many different ethnicities, speaks numerous languages and has different cultural values. Efforts are being made by both the Republican and Democratic parties to reach out to AAPI voters, including more translation services and early outreach. 

Attracting voters will come down to the policies being proposed by the parties and individual candidates. Based on those surveyed, most said it was important for elected politicians to share their values (87%). However, only 30% said they wanted politicians that looked like them, and 43% wanted them to have a similar background.

Since the 2020 elections, it is clear that both parties have seen the influence of the AAPI community and the importance of outreach and inclusion of this group in campaigning efforts. As Christine Chen, Executive Director of APIAVote, said, “This is new ground for political parties and candidates to lean into. We saw such a large growth of the AAPI electorate in 2020 — it’s really going to be the next two elections that decide whether or not these voters become part of the base.”

Quotes and data taken from the Politico article “Trauma and Trump make Asian American voters a more cohesive bloc, new poll reveals

On November 12th, the Democrats Abroad AAPI Caucus spoke with Christine Chen to hear more about the findings from APIAVote’s 2020 voter survey and trends among the AAPI community. You can watch the recording here: