Asian American vote can swing tight races

By Mico Letargo

LOS ANGELES – In a paper entitled “Asian Americans at the Ballot Box: The 2008 General Elections in Los Angeles County,” the Asian Pacific American Legal Center (APALC) determined that more Asian Americans are voting now than ever before. The number of Asian Americans voting in the elections climbed steadily in the past 10 years. In LA County alone, a record total of 283,000 Asian Americans cast their votes in the 2008 elections.

In an election that might turn out to be a tight race to the finish, different ethnic voter groups, like the Asian American Pacific Islanders, might just swing the tide and win the presidential seat for either President Barack Obama or Republican nominee Mitt Romney.

An increase in efforts to reach out to these AAPI groups could prove to be the shot in the arm that would power either candidate to victory, come November.

AAPI population could turn the tide

An argument for the AAPI population could be made, in the sense that their growing numbers have reached “tipping-point” population levels in battleground or swing states, according to a report by NBC’s Richard Lui.

In Lui’s report, he used Florida as an example, a state where AAPIs are 3 percent of the total population. It’s a relatively small number, but Obama won Florida in 2008 by only 2.5 percentage points.
Likewise, in Virginia, where the Asian Americans number to around 7 percent, Obama won by only 6.3 percentage points.

Lui laid out another perspective with which we could examine the impact of the growing AAPI population in the election. In the nine battleground states covered by NBC News in 2008, Obama won by a popular margin of victory of almost 1.6 million votes.

The Asian American population in those states in 2010, said Lui, was pegged at 2.3 million. Even after taking out from the equation the AAPIs below 18 years old — roughly 25 percent of the 2.3 million — leaves 1.73 million voters, a number that is still larger than Obama’s margin of victory.

These numbers, as explained by Lui, emphasize the fact that the growing numbers of AAPIs in America are capable of delivering the deciding votes in a closely fought election – which is what the November vote is shaping out to be.

Between the existing and emerging Asian American communities in the country, the number of APAs in the United States continues to grow. Amounting to nearly 15.5 million people nationwide, Asian Americans comprise 5 percent of the total population.

Given these numbers, Mee Moua of the Asian American Center for Advancing Justice in Washington, D.C. said in an interview with that Asian Americans need to be closely considered by the candidates in the upcoming elections.

“As we head toward election day, candidates and political parties will step up their voter engagement efforts,” Moua told, “Those who want to succeed will recognize the importance of the Asian American voter. Those who ignore us, do so at their own peril.” (end)

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