Immigration Reform May Make Asian Americans Lean Democratic

Wednesday, 19 Mar 2014 09:32 AM

By Courtney Coren

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President Barack Obama captured 73 percent of the Asian-American vote in 2012, marking a huge shift from 1992 when former President Bill Clinton won just 36 percent of the same voting bloc and confusing Republicans as to why.

With a median income of $65,469, according to the 2009 Current Population Survey, their tendency toward entrepreneurship and strong family values, Conservatives say that Asian Americans have characteristics that some would think would make them lean Republican, Politico reported. 

"If you are are looking for a natural Republican constituency, Asians should define 'natural'," wrote Charles Murray, a political scientist at the American Enterprise Institute.

"And yet something has happened to define conservatism in the minds of Asians as deeply unattractive, despite all the reasons that should naturally lead them to vote for a party that is identified with liberty, opportunity to get ahead, and economic growth," he added.

But that may not be how Asians see it.

The three professors writing for Politico — Alexander Kuo, Neil Malhotra, and Cecilia Hyunjung Mo — contend that the Republican Party may not appear as welcoming to minorities as the Democratic Party.

There is also a direct correlation between Asian Americans who have been subject to self-reported racial discrimination and party affiliation, which puts them in the Democratic camp, they found.

When exposed to even just a minute amount of racial aggression, the number of Asian Americans who identified as Democrats went up by more than 10 percent, giving the impression that "Asian Americans associate feelings of social exclusion based on their ethnic background with the Republican Party."

Asian Americans also tend to lean Democratic when they identify with other minorities and immigrant groups more than when they are pitted against other minority groups, which causes them to identify as Republican more.

This suggests that the debate on immigration reform may be one of the factors that has pushed the group toward the Democrats.

The three professors conclude that "as long as Republicans appear scornful of minorities, our findings suggest, they will not get Asian Americans' electoral support."

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