Why the Asian American vote matters

The AAPI population in the US is significant enough to influence elections and redefine the political landscape, making it more important than ever to vote.

November 3 marks the 2020 United States presidential election. As Election Day nears, this is arguably the most important election many voters will face in their lifetime.

The nation has seen first hand how President Donald Trump has mishandled and failed to address key issues facing the US, including the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, race relations, and climate change.

President Trump has repeatedly lied about COVID-19, resulting in over 200,000 deaths in the US. During the first presidential debate on September 29, he failed to condemn white supremacists. He has also repeatedly called climate change a hoax, and his administration has weakened the nation’s environmental regulations over the past three years.

A lot is at stake, and there is an urgent need to restore the nation and its democracy.

Data from a YouGov poll conducted earlier this month found that seven in 10 Americans (69%) say this election is the most important one of their lifetime.

Photo Credit: YouGov

As Asian Americans, we need to harness our collective power as a community to vote out Trump. There is a sense of urgency for the younger generation of Asian Americans to disrupt the current political discourse. We need to debunk the myth of Asian American political apathy and be proactive in creating change for a more equitable future.

Taken from The Peahce Project’s Instagram.

History of the AAPI vote

According to PEW Research, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) are the fastest-growing racial group of voters in the US electorate. Asian Americans make up nearly 5% of the nation’s eligible voters, and more than 11 million will be eligible to vote this year.

However, AAPI voter turnout has historically always been low. Only 49% of eligible Asian American voters voted in the 2016 election.

Photo credit: AAPI Data

Motivational barriers to voting

Why has AAPI voter turnout always been so low? Insufficient language accommodations and lack of outreach from political parties are common barriers.

A recent AAPI youth poll identified key motivational barriers to voter registration among younger Americans. This poll, commissioned by The New, is one of the first political polls of its kind targeting AAPI youth. For too long, Asian Americans have been underrepresented in political polling.

The poll found that one in three AAPI youth voters does not plan to register to vote this election.

28% said they have not had the time to register to vote. 23% said they need more information. 15% said they don’t care about politics, and 12% believe their vote won’t make a difference.

In the Netflix original series Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj, Minhaj talks with former presidential candidate Andrew Yang and Senator Cory Booker during the episode, Don’t Ignore the Asian Vote in 2020, in efforts to understand how candidates can appeal to the rapidly growing Asian American electorate.

During the episode, Yang shares how his parents never emphasized politics much. For many Asian American millennials, the mission was to always do well in school, get good grades, and get a good job.

“Make money, or make a difference. You can’t do both,” Minhaj said.

We need to drop the model minority myth and question our biases in order to advocate for transformative change in the political landscape.

Asian American millennials on major issues facing the US

The AAPI youth poll found that many respondents strongly align with a progressive agenda and movement politics. AAPI youth voters show strong support for the Green New Deal, Medicare for All, College for All, and the Black Lives Matter movement.

Top issues facing young Asian Americans today include the nation’s response to COVID-19 (50%), jobs/wages/unemployment benefits (34%), fighting systemic racism (30%), and stopping police violence (20%).

President Trump and his administration’s failure to address these major issues is a key indicator of why we need to vote him out.

Taken from So You Want To Talk About’s Instagram.

The odds have been stacked against Asian Americans for too long.

Asian Americans are the least likely racial group in the US to be promoted to management positions in the workplace. Asian Americans have also faced admissions bias when applying to Ivy League schools like Harvard and Yale.

We need to work together and vote for the leader that will help, not hurt, us. We need to break the Asian glass ceiling. The idea of affirmative action has left Asian Americans on the back burner, and misguided progressive policies have reinforced systemic racism Asian Americans also face.

This election is more important than ever and younger Americans have the power to decide the outcome of this election. That is only if they go to register and vote.

The power of the Asian American vote in the 2020 election

AAPI voters have a huge potential to influence close elections. They also play a big role in swinging the vote in key battleground states.

For example, Virginia’s AAPI population grew by 125% since 2000. This eventually led to flipping the state from red to blue.

Orange County, California was also known as “a Republican fortress,” according to The New York Times. In 2018, the Democrats won every single House seat in the county as Asian and Latino populations rose.

This election is no exception. For example, Trump and Biden are locked in a dead heat in North Carolina this week. With nearly 172,000 eligible AAPI voters in North Carolina, the Asian American vote has the potential to swing the vote this election.

The rapid growth of the Asian American population is a huge opportunity for Democrats, especially in 2020 battleground states like Pennsylvania, Nevada, and Arizona.

With so much at stake in this year’s election, it’s extremely important that Asian American millennials exercise their right to vote. As part of the AAPI community, we have the power to influence the outcome of this election and make a difference.

Visit vote.gov or vote.org for more voting information.

Featured image by Jacqueline Sia

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