The Republican Party’s diminishing appeal to Latino voters has been well documented over the past decade, but the GOP is arguably in even worse shape when it comes to winning the votes of Asian-American voters. The rate at which Asian voters are defecting from voting Republican to voting Democrat has been accelerating at an even faster rate than the move of Latino voters to the left.
While Hispanic voters have gone from being a moderately Democratic constituency in presidential elections to a solid Democratic constituency, Asian voters have switched allegiances from being a reliably Republican voting bloc to a staunchly Democratic bloc.
In 1992, according to exit polls, George H.W. Bush won 55 percent of the Asian vote to just 31 percent for Bill Clinton, while Independent Ross Perot picked up 15 percent. Republican Bob Dole also won the Asian-American vote in 1996. Although Al Gore and John Kerry defeated George W. Bush with Asian voters, the contest for their votes was competitive. In contrast, by 2012, Barack Obama crushed Mitt Romney with Asian-American voters by a 73-26 margin.
Although Republican front-runner Donald Trump’s campaign rhetoric has mostly focused on demonizing Mexican immigrants, the “Know Nothing” anti-immigrant fervor he espouses is also something Asian-American voters witness with concern. 74 percent of Asian-American adults were born abroad, so anti-immigrant rhetoric is something that catches their attention.
For Asian-American voters, Trump is not the only GOP offender, when it comes to voicing xenophobic rhetoric. When Jeb Bush stepped into controversy by arguing that “anchor babies” were primarily “Asian people”, that set off alarm bells with Asian-American voters who felt the GOP candidate was stereotyping and stigmatizing all Asians with his remarks.
Asian voters only make up a small percentage of the overall electorate, but they are the fastest growing immigrant group in the country. Since 2009, more Asian immigrants have entered the United States each year than Hispanic immigrants, so their numbers will only continue to grow. The Republican Party’s anti-immigrant politics of exclusion will only ensure that Asians who are eligible to vote, will continue to abandon the GOP in droves. The Republican Party no longer offers Asian voters anything of substance to earn their votes.
Keith Brekhus is a progressive American who currently resides in Red Lodge, Montana. He is co-host for the Liberal Fix radio show. He holds a Master’s Degree in Sociology from the University of Missouri. In 2002, he ran for Congress as a Green Party candidate in the state of Missouri. In 2014, he worked as a field organizer for Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick’s successful re-election bid in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District. He can be followed on Twitter @keithbrekhus or on Facebook.