Emil Guillermo: Was the ethnic vote America's Blue Wave rising...or falling?

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A week ago, there was no Red Wave. Was there a Blue one?

If you look at other exit polls, not as much as there could have been.

BIPOC voters were seen and heard on election night. And their unity was the key.

But from the numbers, it appears the coalition is beginning to fray a bit.

Overall, whites were 72 percent of the voters on Nov. 8, according to the Associated Press Vote Cast exit polling. And they voted Red (Republican) 59 percent to 39 percent Blue (Democrat).

Those among that 39 percent are allies to traditional BIPOC voters. And we’d better hope that number grows.

BIPOC voters at less than 25 percent of voters on Nov. 8 could still use all the help they can get. While they provided surprisingly good midterm election results for Democrats, it should have been even better.

It wasn’t.

The reason? Blues are becoming ever slightly less blue.

Sure, on election night BIPOC voters were predominantly Democratic, and thanks to that, we did we see an unexpected “mini-Blue Wave.”

Blacks made up 11 percent of the voters and went 83 percent Blue, with just 14 percent Red.

That’s high but it was still lower by up to seven percentage points compared to the 2018 midterms, according to network exit polling and the AP VoteCast poll, as reported by the Washington Post.

Hispanic/Latino voters were 11 percent of the electorate on Nov. 8 and were 56 Blue to 40 percent Red.

But again, that’s a decrease of about nine and 10 percentage points from the 2018 midterms.

Asian Americans were just 2 percent of the Nov. 8 voters and were 64 percent Blue to 34 percent Red.

That’s in keeping with what the AALDEF exit poll found in its 15 state multilingual exit poll that targeted AAPIs. (See my previous column on the AALDEF exit poll.)

But compared to the 2018 midterms, Asian American Blue support was around 71 percent.

Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders were less than .5 percent of the voters and were 58 percent Blue to 38 percent Red. That’s lower than the AA part of the AANHPI.

I was also surprised that American Indian voters, just 1 percent of the voters on Nov. 8, were 37 percent Blue to 57 percent Red.

So are American Indian voters already where the rest of the BIPOC voters are heading? One might chalk up the ethnic vote slide to turnout. But considering motivating factors like the economy, abortion, or even the fate of democracy, I think despite good turnout, some may be tired of divided government and willing to test new ideas that might work for them.

Could that new idea possibly be Donald Trump?

Trump, who is set to announce his candidacy for a third run for president, is doing so into a headwind. His election deniers have lost. For governor, for Congress, for state level election chiefs. He is no longer seen as a winner. He is a bona fide loser among losers. Even the exit polling on favorability for Trump is disastrous.

How can he possibly win? By acknowledging how America’s demographics have changed and begin courting the ethnic vote.

I don’t mean the Herschel Walkers, whom Dave Chappelle on SNL called “observably stupid.”

I mean regular folks who see themselves as independent swing voters.

I say this not in jest, though I wish I were.

Courting the ethnic vote was one of the things the GOP seemed committed to in 2016, but then Trump came in and the GOP embraced the Trump base.

That would be the irony if outreach to ethnic voters might be the one thing that could help the future of the GOP and Trump–by taking advantage of what looks to be a diminishing blue lock on ethnic voters.

Of course, it might also lose them the rabid and racist Trump base, the mostly white Jan. 6 folks, who saw in Trump the one person who would represent their xenophobic tendencies in a white world that is shrinking.

That might actually be a good thing to see them shamed back under a big rock.

It boils down to which group could make the GOP and Trump winners again.

What scares me is seeing an Asian American like Angilla Wang, a voter who was quoted in a recent Washington Post story on minority voters.

She is described as an Orange County (California) voter who went straight ticket Republican for the first time. She was a moderate, an advocate for abortion rights, who voted for Obama twice.

Wang doesn’t like what Democrats have done with fighting crime, and she doesn’t like their emphasis on more gun laws. A Second Amendment Asian American?

Wang, like most Asian Americans, has a sensitivity to crime in light of the rise in anti-Asian hate since the pandemic.

But that was fueled by Trump scapegoating us.

Her take: “He definitely did not help the situation,” she said to the Post. “But did he cause Asian hate? Absolutely not. That’s irresponsible thinking in my opinion,” she said, adding she would actually vote for Trump if he were the Republican candidate.

I would vehemently disagree with her. Trump was like a green light to hate.

But does Wang sound like any Asian Americans you know?

The takeaway is the affirmative action battle was just a harbinger. There will be other issues that threaten a sense of Asian American voter unity in the future.

Asian Americans? We aren’t all the same. And we’d better get used to seeing more Asians on the other side of our traditional issues.

What I don’t like about the Post’s report is that they don’t give Wang’s age or her immigration background. Multi-generation Asian American? Daughter of a post- 1980s immigrant? If she voted for Obama, twice she might be in her late 30s/40s.

This is our community’s evolving diversity within.

And that’s why we find Asian Americans who welcome Donald Trump’s announcement this week.

We counteract them by staying true to the values that have kept the BIPOC coalition moving in the direction of social justice for all.

The exit polls may show us less blue than 2018. But together with other groups, we’re still fighting for what’s right. Labor rights. Immigrant rights. Voting rights. Abortion rights. LGBTQ rights.

Asian Americans are still majority blue. And that’s what it takes in a democracy.

NOTE: I will talk about this column and other matters on “Emil Amok’s Takeout,” my AAPI micro-talk show. Live @2p Pacific. Livestream on Facebook; my YouTube channel; and Twitter. Catch the recordings on

Image by AALDEF

Emil Guillermo is an independent journalist/commentator. Updates at Follow Emil on Twitter, and like his Facebook page.

The views expressed in his blog do not necessarily represent AALDEF’s views or policies.

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