Findings Illuminate Asian American Voter Priorities for 2008 Elections, Vote for U.S. Senator, and Ethnic Backgrounds
Today in Philadelphia, the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) released detailed findings from its multilingual exit poll of hundreds of Asian American voters in Pennsylvania during the November 2006 midterm elections. AALDEF, a 33-year-old civil rights organization, polled more than 4,700 Asian American voters in 23 cities and in nine states on Election Day, conducting the largest nonpartisan survey of its kind.
AALDEF Voting Rights Public Education Coordinator Brian Redondo and Staff Attorney Glenn Magpantay presented detailed findings from the 2006 Pennsylvania exit poll with comparative information in the following areas:
- Voter priorities for the 2008 Elections
- Party enrollment and voting history
- Vote for U.S. Senator
- Ethnicity and national origin
- Opinions about immigration reform
- Citizenship tenure (duration)
- English proficiency levels
AALDEF’s multilingual exit polls reveal vital information about Asian American voting patterns that is often overlooked in mainstream voter surveys. AALDEF has conducted exit polls of Asian American voters in every major election since 1988. Nearly 11,000 Asian American voters in eight states and 3,000 in four states were surveyed in the 2004 and 2002 exit polls, respectively. More than 30 community groups and organizations joined AALDEF to mobilize over 600 attorneys, law students, and volunteers to conduct the exit poll and to safeguard the voting rights of Asian Americans.
Co-sponsors of the April 19 presentation include Asian American Bar Association of the Delaware Valley, Cambodian Association of Greater Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition, Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation, Asian Pacific American Law Student Association and the Public Service Law Program of Penn Law, and People for the American Way.
The Asian American Vote in Pennsylvania
On Election Day, November 7, 2006, the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), with the help of several co-sponsoring organizations and more than 600 attorneys, law students, and volunteers, conducted a nonpartisan, multilingual exit poll of over 4,700 Asian American voters. The questionnaire was available in English and nine Asian languages. Voters were surveyed in 23 cities across nine states—New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, Illinois, Washington—as well as Washington, D.C.
AALDEF surveyed a total of 285 Pennsylvania Asian American voters. Respondents were surveyed in Philadelphias Chinatown, North Philadelphia, South Philadelphia, University City, and Upper Darby. Highlights of the findings include:
Profile of respondents.
The five largest ethnic groups surveyed in Pennsylvania were Chinese (43%), Vietnamese (17%), South Asian (16%), Korean (7%), and Cambodian (6%). Sixty-eight percent (68%) were foreign-born citizens. Seventeen percent (17%) had either no formal U.S. education or less than a high school education. Sixteen percent (16%) of respondents were first-time voters.
The majority of Asian Americans voted for Democratic candidate Robert Casey, Jr. for U.S. Senate.
Over two-thirds (70%) of Asian American voters polled supported Democratic challenger Robert Casey, Jr. for U.S. Senate. Twenty-eight percent (28%) voted for Republican incumbent Rick Santorum. Among all Pennsylvania voters, Casey won 59% of the vote and Santorum won 41%.
Economy/Jobs was the most important issue Asian Americans identified for 2008 Presidential candidates to address.
The three most important issues for 2008 presidential candidates to address were: Economy/Jobs (29%), Health Care (19%), and Education (17%).
Most Asian Americans were enrolled in the Democratic Party.
Over half (52%) of Pennsylvania Asian Americans were registered Democrats, 24% were not enrolled in any political party, and 22% were registered Republicans. Three out of five (60%) Chinese voters were enrolled in the Democratic Party, while 59% of Vietnamese voters were registered Republicans.
Asian Americans supported legalization of undocumented immigrants and reducing immigration backlogs, while they opposed making being undocumented a crime.
Of those who gave an opinion, 83% of respondents said they favored creating a way for undocumented immigrants to legalize their status. Additionally, nine out of ten (92%) of respondents said they favored reducing the amount of time the government takes to process paperwork for immigrants waiting to enter the country. Three out of five (59%) respondents also said they opposed making being undocumented a crime.
Over a third of Asian Americans have been affected by anti-immigrant sentiment.
Thirty-five percent (35%) of respondents said they had been affected by anti-immigrant sentiment either at work, at school, or in a public location. Of those, close to half (45%) said they had been affected by anti-immigrant sentiment in public locations.
Language assistance and translated ballots are needed to preserve access to the vote.
The majority of Vietnamese American voters (58%) reported some difficulty reading English. Nearly a third (30%) of Chinese American voters expressed that they were limited English proficient. Eighteen percent (18%) of respondents listed English as their native language. One in three (33%) respondents used interpreters to vote.
Asian American voters encountered unlawful ID requirements.
The Help America Vote Act of 2002 requires that only certain first-time voters provide identification to vote. Yet 76% of those asked to show identification in order to vote were not required to do so under this federal law. Voters also complained of unhelpful poll workers, inadequate notification of poll site assignments, and lack of interpreters.
AALDEF Exit Polls
AALDEF has conducted exit polls of Asian American voters in every major election since 1988. Nearly 11,000 Asian American voters in eight states (NY, NJ, MA, MI, IL, PA, RI, VA) were surveyed in AALDEFs 2004 exit poll. Over 3,000 Asian American voters in four states (NY, NJ, MA, MI) were surveyed in 2002, and over 5,000 Asian New Yorkers were surveyed in 2000.
National Co-Sponsors of the Asian American Exit Poll 2006:
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
Local Co-Sponsors of the Asian American Exit Poll 2006:
Asian American Bar Association of New York
Asian American Bar Association of the Delaware Valley
Asian American Lawyers Association of Massachusetts
Asian Bar Association of Washington
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
Chinatown Voter Education Alliance NY
Coalition of Asian Pacific Americans of Virginia
Conference on Asian Pacific American Leadership DC
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
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.
For More Information, contact:
Glenn D. Magpantay, Staff Attorney, email@example.com
Brian Redondo, Voting Rights Public Education Coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org
Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF)
99 Hudson Street, 12th floor
New York, NY 10013