Why Asians Are Deserting the Republican Party

Posted on 11/4/13
By Ruy Teixeira | Via ThinkProgress
Asians for Obama in San Fransisco. (Photo by Steve Rhodes, Creative Commons License)
Asians for Obama in San Fransisco. (Photo by Steve Rhodes, Creative Commons License)

Asian-Americans have been moving steadily toward the Democrats and away from the GOP. In 2012, Asians supported Obama by a staggering 73-26, compared to 62-35 in 2008. This is a remarkable trajectory for a group that, back in 1992, supported George H.W. Bush over Bill Clinton by a strong 54-30 margin. In every election since then, Asians have increased their support for the Democratic candidate, including elections like 2004 where most other groups, even progressive ones, were going in the opposite direction:

Asian 1

Why is this? One reason is the GOP’s dreadful record on immigration, an issue of considerable importance to the Asian-American community. Another is that Asian-Americans are a strongly pro-government constituency. In a massive Pew study of Asians, released last year, Asians endorsed a bigger government providing more services over a smaller government providing fewer services by 55-36. That’s a sharp contrast with the public as a whole, who endorsed smaller over larger government by 52-39.

new poll from CAP and PolicyLink provides another reason why this group would find today’s GOP unpalatable: Asians are the most enthusiastic and unafraid supporters of America’s rising diversity.

In the poll, respondents were asked whether they agreed or disagreed with 16 statements about rising diversity in America, evenly divided between “diversity concerns” and “diversity opportunities.” The level of agreement with each statement was recorded on a 10-point scale, with maximum agreement being 10 and maximum disagreement being zero.

From these statements, we created a 160-point index measuring openness to diversity, with zero being the least open to diversity and 160 being the most open to diversity. The overall public received a mean score of 86.5 on our composite openness measure. By comparison, Asians scored 97, followed by African Americans with 93, Latinos with 90 and whites with just 84. And white conservatives, about all that’s left in the GOP these days, scored a mere 71.

The poll also found that openness to diversity varied by age and education, generally going down with age and up with education. Reflecting these patterns, Asian Millennial generation college graduates received a stunningly high 108 score on the openness to diversity index. On some of the diversity opportunity statements in the index, this group came close to unanimous agreement (scores 6-10). For example, 97 percent of Asian Millennial college graduates agreed that “diverse workplaces and schools will help make American businesses more innovative and competitive.”

As can be seen from the table below, Asians generally scored quite high on most of the diversity opportunity statements. On the top four opportunity statements, they averaged an impressive 79 percent agreement:

Asians 2

But it was on the diversity concerns statements that Asians really distinguished themselves. On almost every question, Asians registered lower levels of fear about the negative consequences of growing American diversity than every other ethnic group studied. For example, only 31 percent worried that there will be no common American culture and a low 34 percent believed there will be more inequality:

Asian 3

Only one item, too many demands on government services, generated majority agreement and even here, Asians were barely above the 50 percent mark, 9 points below the population as a whole.

So just as Republican base voters are freaking out about being forced to speak immigrants’ languages, Asian-Americans are proving themselves to be remarkably unafraid of our multiethnic future.

Unsurprisingly, then, Asians also broke with Republicans in their support for a new equity agenda to address racial and ethnic inequality. More than 8 in 10 Asians — 83 percent — supported “new steps to reduce racial and ethnic inequality in America through investments in areas like education, job training, and infrastructure improvement,” compared to the just 13 percent who were opposed. In addition, 68 percent of Asians said such steps would help the economy overall, compared to the 10 percent who think they would hurt the economy. Finally, 68 percent of Asians said they would be willing to invest “significantly more public funds to help close [the] gap in college graduation rates” between black and Latino students and white students, compared to 27 percent who said they were not willing to make such investments.

So it should be obvious why Asians voters are such a poor fit for today’s GOP — and why it’s likely to stay that way for the foreseeable future.

This article first appeared in ThinkProgress. Click here to go to the original.


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