A rarity among national polls, a new political poll jointly conducted by NBC News and SurveyMonkey has included much-anticipated survey data for likely Asian American voters.
The NBC News/SurveyMonkey poll reports that 66% of Asian Americans would vote for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton if the 2016 presidential election were held tomorrow, compared to only 23% who would vote for Republican nominee Donald Trump.
These results are consistent with the findings of an AAAJ, APIAVote and AAPIData poll published in May, which showed that Trump had a 61% unfavorability rating among Asian American and Pacific Islander likely voters. By contrast, that same poll found that 62% of surveyed AAPIs had a favorable opinion of Hillary Clinton.
Perhaps it should come as no surprise that Trump is polling as abysmally among Asian American voters as he is with other voters of colour. To date, Trump’s strategy has been to woo disenfranchised White voters under the assumption that this demographic still outnumber all of America’s voters of colour as a whole. As a consequence, Trump has (until very recently) doubled down on a politic of race-baiting and fear-mongering, one where his central platform involves banning Muslim refugees, building a wall to keep out Mexicans, and beating a drum of “law enforcement” to invoke White resentment against the Movement for Black Lives.
Even the last few weeks’ more moderate Trump still appears to be catering to White voters over non-White ones; Trump’s landmark speech on the Black community was delivered last week to a predominantly White audience, and analysts suggest the move was designed to present a more palatable Trump to undecided Whites rather than to make inroads into the Black community.
Trump seems equally as disinterested in wooing the growing Asian American electorate. Despite receiving an invitation to the landmark AAJA/APIAVote Presidential Election Forum held earlier this month, Trump’s campaign declined to send the candidate to speak to the thousands of journalists and community members who came together at the first-ever “quad-partisan” presidential election event targeted towards the AAPI community. Instead, Trump sent Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, who rambled about himself for forty minutes before ending his speech with a rap about Muhammad Ali.
Over the course of 2016’s presidential election season, Trump has already made inflammatory remarks about Chinese, Indians and Filipinos — the latter of whom he called “animals” at a campaign stop. And, we still have more than two months to go until Election Day. Trump clearly doesn’t give a crap about appealing to Asian American voters, or any other non-White voter.
Terrifyingly, Trump has found some measure of success when it comes to wooing many disgruntled White voters: according to NBC News/Survey Monkey’s poll, 50% of White voters support Trump. But, it’s unlikely that these voters can outnumber the 66% of Asian voters who oppose him, particularly when considered alongside the 87% of Black and 73% of Hispanic voters whom the survey show also do not back Trump.
My question, though is still this: who the hell are the 23% of Asian American voters who back Trump? After everything that’s happened over the last several weeks, what more will it take for these folks to actually be disenchanted by the prospect of a Trump presidency?