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.
In one month, the votes will be tallied to decide the next president of the United States. Some Americans have already voted. Many others will cast their ballot on Election Day on November 8th.
Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are the fastest growing population in the United States. Yet, the AAPI community has among the lowest voter turnout across any racial group, as well as among the lowest voter registration rates. In the 2012 general election, the Census estimated that only 47.3% of registered Asian voters actually cast a ballot, while Pew reports a similar trend of low Asian voter turnout for midterm elections.
It is crucial for our community to reverse this trend, particularly as 2016’s Election Day draws near. It is incumbent upon AAPIs to cast our ballots.
It has been nearly a month since the fatal shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown by Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson, and in that time, the nation has become engrossed in a long overdue national conversation over race, race relations, racial profiling and police brutality. Countless think-pieces have been written about police brutality, school-to-prison pipelines, racial profiling, the myth of Black criminality, Black-on-Black crime, and cultural pathology. In this past month, it has seemed as if the entire country is struggling through their first “race moment”, forced by Brown’s untimely death to grapple with the fact of institutionalized racism against the Black body; this seems like an issue that too many would rather ignore.
Consequently, several mainstream media outlets have reported on the stark racial divide between Black and White Americans on Ferguson and whether or not racism is a problem in America; nearly half surveyed White Americans think Brown’s shooting death is being overracialized. While two-thirds of Black Americans think excessive force by police is a problem, only one-third of White Americans agree. This clear chasm between Black and White attitudes on race and police effectiveness is both well-documented and not altogether surprising: these answers are heavily influenced by one’s own personal experiences with racism and police brutality, and both economic and skin privilege often protects Whites from unjust run-ins with local police.
But where do Asian Americans — who are both people of colour yet who endure a completely different set of racial stereotypes in America than do other minorities — fall on questions of police brutality?
2014 is turning out to be another critical mid-term election year, with most analysts predicting huge losses for the Democrats in both the House and the Senate. Whatever changes are made to the political distribution of Congress will critically impact the final two years of the Obama Administration: an administration that has been largely hamstrung in pursuing all of its major policy initiatives by obstinate and obstructive Republicans. Should the trend of Democratic losses in Congress continue, it could seriously hamper the chances that any real work will be done in the next two years in the Capitol.
Consequently, attention is focusing once more towards the electorate, and various voting groups. Asian Americans have routinely been cited as a growing swing electorate, one that I suggested made a significant impact in the outcome of the 2012 election. This year, Asian Americans — who make up about 4% of registered voters — could once again swing the election.
However, last week, the Pew Research Center published a report suggesting that compared to other minority groups, Asian Americans have the lowest voter turnout, at just 31%. And more disturbingly, our voter turnout rates have seriously declined in the last 20 years, compared to turnout rates of White and Black voters, which have remained stable or which have risen slightly.
Yesterday marked a critical election day for the nation, despite being an off-year election with only a handful of “headline-worthy” races. Nonetheless, Election Day 2013 took place in the wake of a two-week shutdown of the federal government that most voters blamed on the Tea Party. It also occurred amid controversy regarding the troubled online launch of Healthcare.gov, the Obama administration’s cornerstone website for implementation of the Affordable Care Act (commonly known as Obamacare).
Many pundits have viewed (or spun) last night’s election as a referendum on both the Tea Party and Obamacare. In that light, it is interesting to assess how the American voter responded, in general, on the night’s key races. More importantly (at least to readers of this blog), many of the night’s key races occurred in cities and states — New York City, New Jersey and Virginia — with relatively high populations of Asian American voters, and where Asian American voters helped propel President Obama to his 2012 re-election.
Thus, last night’s election results not only speak to the general attitude of all voters, but can also be used to assess the attitudes of the Asian American voter within the larger political landscape of the American voter. And, looking at the results, we see some pretty interesting trends.
Since 2001, Reappropriate has been the web's foremost Asian American activism, identity, feminism, and pop culture blog!