Asian Americans will make up more than 10 percent of California voters by the time America elects the next president.
Asian Americans are the fastest-growing minority in the nation. Still, Asian community leaders in Los Angeles say the Democratic and Republican parties are each doing a poor job appealing to Asian voters.
The community leaders were reacting to the release of a new study centered on the concerns and behaviors of Asian voters.
California State University, Los Angeles, carried out the study. It questioned more than 1,800 Asian American registered voters in Los Angeles.
The study suggested that Asian Americans’ politically are moving toward the Democratic Party, if they are moving at all. The researchers said age and country of origin are the biggest issues that divide Asian-Americans.
The study included people of Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Philippine ethnicity. It showed that those from the ages of 18 to 29, or “millennials,” think much differently than older Asians.
Most of the millennials were born in America. They know English very well. They get their news from the English language media. Their main source of news comes from the Internet.
The study shows that older Asian voters are mostly foreign-born and get their news from foreign language media.
Community leaders say political parties seeking support must find Asian candidates for office. They say Asian American voters often support candidates with whom they share the same ethnicity, even if they do not share the same political party.
“Asian Americans across the board support someone from their own community to represent them,” said business owner Charlie Woo. Woo is in charge of a community group called CAUSE.
Asian American also differ on what issues are important to them. Younger Asians in the study expressed liberal opinions on social issues, such as gay marriage.
Kat Alvarado is a Philippine American student at Cal State, Los Angeles. She says immigration reform, sexual reproductive rights and gun control are the issues most important to her.
Alvarado says she is a political independent.
Political parties not reaching Asian Americans
Charlie Woo of CAUSE says that the study shows that only one in three Asian Americans voters have had contact with elected officials.
“I think the parties have been making a mistake not paying attention,” Woo said.
Former Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich meets with Asian-Americans during a 2012 campaign stop. Polls suggest Asian-American voters are impacting presidential elections.
Many older immigrants need encouragement to vote, said David Ryu. He is the first Korean American elected to the Los Angeles City Council.
Ryu said total voter turnout in his election last year was just 16 percent. “For Asian Americans - Korean Americans - it was about 40 percent,” he said.
The leaders said outreach in politics should differ by age and community. Older Asian Americans are still the majority of active Asian voters. They attend to traditional broadcasts and print media.
Some of the recent Chinese and Korean immigrants follow foreign language media sources. Experts say religious organizations are another way to reach older Asian voters.
Young voters are less religious and more involved with technology. They can be reached through English websites and social media.
Less involvement in community
College student Hannah Hsieh spoke to VOA. She says that reaching Asian Americans like her can be difficult. She says this is because many young Asians are focused on education and career.
Hannah Hsieh said that reaching Asian Americans like her can be a challenge for campaigns. (M. O'Sullivan/VOA)
That is likely to change. Experts on politics predict that young, liberal Asian voters will become more involved in civic activities.
I’m Mario Ritter.
Mike O’Sullivan wrote this story for VOANews.com. Jim Dresbach adapted the report for Learning English. Katy Weaver was the editor.
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Words in This Story
millennials – n. a group of people whose birth dates generally range from the early 1980s to around 2000
encouragement - n. something that makes someone more determined, hopeful or confident
turnout – n. the number of people who go to or participate in something
focus - v. to cause something-such as attention- to be directed at something specific
civic – adj. relating to citizenship or being a citizen