76% of Asian Americans in Michigan Reject Anti-Affirmative Action Referendum
New York—Asian American voters in eight states continued a decade-long shift to support Democratic candidates, with 79% of those polled favoring Democrats in Tuesday’s congressional and state elections. According to preliminary results of a nonpartisan, multilingual exit poll of over 4,600 Asian American voters, released today by the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), Democratic candidates in closely-watched races in Virginia, New Jersey and other states were consistently buoyed by Asian American voter turnout.
Most exit poll respondents (87%) said that they had voted in a previous election, while 13% told AALDEF volunteers that they were first-time voters. Over 625 pro bono attorneys, law students, and community activists monitored polling places and surveyed Asian American voters in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Michigan, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C.
AALDEF Executive Director Margaret Fung said: “Asian American voters reacted to sharp ideological differences among the candidates and displayed their awareness of party labels. The decade-long trend of Asian American voters favoring Democratic candidates contributed to the dramatic shifts in political power that took place in Tuesday’s midterm elections.”
AALDEF Exit Poll Survey Highlights:
Virginia Senate: After maintaining a slim lead, Democratic candidate Jim Webb was declared the winner by 0.3% of the total vote (49.6%) beating Republican incumbent Sen. George Allen (49.3%), best known among Asian Americans for his derogatory macaca remark to a South Asian campaign worker. According to AALDEFs exit poll of more than 250 Asian American voters, 76% voted for Jim Webb, 21% voted for Sen. Allen, and 3% voted for Glenda Parker.
New Jersey Senate: In this heated Senate race, among more than 370 Asian Americans polled, 77% voted for incumbent Sen. Robert Menendez, while 20% voted for Republican challenger Thomas Kean Jr.a 57-point margin. 3% of Asian Americans polled voted for other candidates. Among all New Jersey voters, Menendez held his seat by an 8-point margin (53% to 45%).
Maryland Senate: In Maryland’s open Senate seat, among over 200 Asian American voters polled, 73% chose Democrat Ben Cardin, with 24% for Republican Michael Steele, and 3% for Green Party candidate Kevin Zeese. Among the general electorate, 54% voted for Cardin, 44% for Steele, and 2% for Zeese.
Pennsylvania Senate: Among more than 200 Asian American voters polled in Philadelphia, 71% voted for Democratic candidate Bob Casey, while 29% voted for Republican incumbent Sen. Rick Santorum. Among all voters, 59% voted for Casey and 41% voted for Santorum.
Massachusetts Governor: Democratic candidate Deval Patrick, who became the nation’s second African American elected governor, received support from 75% of more than 350 Asian American voters polled in Boston, Dorchester, Lowell and Quincy, with Kerry Healey receiving 21%. Statewide, 56% voted for Patrick, and 35% voted for Healey.
Michigan Proposal 2: Rejecting claims that Asian Americans are hurt by affirmative action programs, three in four Asian American voters voted No to Proposal 2, which seeks to end race- and gender-based affirmative action programs in education, hiring, contracting, and health initiatives. More than 300 Asian American voters—including Arab Americans—participated in AALDEF’s exit poll survey in Michigan. Proposal 2 passed by a wide margin, 58% to 42%.
Illinois Governor: Democratic incumbent Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich defeated his Republican opponent Judy Baar Topinka with a 10-point lead, 50% to 40%. In contrast, 99% of the 170 Asian Americans polled in Chicago voted for Blagojevich, with 1% for Topinka.
New York Attorney General: Of over 2,300 Asian American voters polled in New York City, 82% voted for Democratic candidate Andrew Cuomo. Republican contender Jeanine Pirro received 14% of the Asian American vote, with 4% voting for other candidates. Cuomo led Pirro 58% to 40% among all voters statewide.
The 2006 Elections mark the 19th year in which AALDEF has conducted a nonpartisan exit poll of Asian American voters. Additional information on Asian American ethnic groups and population growth data in the eight states surveyed is available upon request.
AALDEF volunteers—the majority of whom spoke one of 15 Asian languages or dialects—conducted the multilingual survey, which was translated into nine languages: Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Khmer, Bengali, Arabic, Punjabi, Urdu, and Gujarati. AALDEF’s multilingual exit polls reveal vital information about Asian American voting patterns regularly overlooked in mainstream voter surveys and provide a snapshot of Asian American voter preferences on candidates, political parties, language needs, and other issues of vital importance to their communities. More detailed results from AALDEF’s exit poll will be released in the coming weeks.
AALDEF’s Election Protection 2006 efforts were made possible by many groups that mobilized volunteer attorneys, law students, college students and community activists.
Asian Pacific Islander American Vote
Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
National Asian Pacific American Bar Association
National Korean American Service & Education Consortium
Organization of Chinese Americans
People For the American Way Foundation
South Asian American Leaders of Tomorrow
Shearman & Sterling LLP
Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP
Asian American Bar Association of New York
Asian American Bar Association of the Delaware Valley
Asian American Lawyers Association of Massachusetts
Asian Pacific American Bar Association of the Greater Washington, DC Area
Asian Pacific American Lawyers Association of New Jersey
Asian Pacific American Legal Resource Center DC
Cambodian Association of Greater Philadelphia
Conference on Asian Pacific American Leadership (CAPAL) DC
Chinatown Voter Education Alliance NY
Coalition of Asian Pacific Americans of Virginia
Filipino American Human Services, Inc. NY
Greater Boston Legal Services, Asian Outreach Unit
Korean American League for Civic Action NY
Korean American Resource & Cultural Center IL
Korean American Voters’ Council of NY & NJ
ONE Lowell MA
Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition
Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation
Providence Youth and Student Movement RI
YKASECEmpowering the Korean American Community NY
The Sikh Coalition NY
South Asian Youth Action! NY
Vietnamese American Initiative for Development MA
Asian Pacific American Law Students Association chapters across the country.