National Exit Polls Totally Underestimated Clinton’s Support among AAPI Voters

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Following the devastating defeat of Democratic nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton by Republican nominee — and now President-elect — Donald Trump, national media outlets are now racing to figure out where it all went wrong. Some pundits have used national exit polling data to place the blame on voters of colour, noting that Black, Latino, and Asian voters supported Clinton at slightly lower margins than they voted to re-elected Barack Obama in 2012. Trump’s victory, they argue, is the fault of non-White voters whom they essentially blame for not acquiescing to their own electoral capture.

There are a couple of obvious issues with that damning narrative. One is, of course, that national exit polling data are wrong about Clinton’s support among AAPI voters.

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New York City’s Chinese American Democrats Backed Clinton Despite Voting Barriers

A voter enters a Chinatown polling place in 2006. (Photo credit: Getty)
A voter enters a Chinatown polling place in 2006. (Photo credit: Getty)

Hillary Clinton advanced one step closer to the Democratic presidential nomination on Tuesday when she faced off against challenger Bernie Sanders in New York State’s primary race — a major prize in the contest for delegate numbers — and emerged victorious. This race was of particular interest to the AAPI community given that New York City boasts the largest single concentration of Asian Americans of any US city: NYC is home to roughly 1 million adult Asian American citizens who represent ~12% of the city’s residents.

Although structural obstacles continue to stymie Asian American voter turnout, roughly 20,000 Asian American voters turned out in New York City on Tuesday to cast a ballot in the Democratic or Republican primary races. Based on New York Times’ exit polling, Asian Americans were 2% of voters who turned out on Tuesday, up from ~1% in 2008.

Too often, mainstream exit pollsters fail to collect a large enough sample of Asian American or Pacific Islander voters to reveal our community’s voting trends. Thankfully, however, the AAPI community has routinely stepped up to meet that challenge.

Today, the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) — which has organized poll monitoring and exit polling of Asian American voters in New York City and across several states for all major election cycles since 1988 — released the results of their 2016 exit poll from Tuesday’s contest. In compiling the results of their survey of 513 Chinese American voters who cast a ballot in Manhattan’s Chinatown on Tuesday, AALDEF reports that those Democrats backed Clinton over Sanders by 54%-43%, and that 60% of polled Chinese American Republicans favoured (exceptionally racist) Donald Trump over challengers John Kasich and Ted Cruz.

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