Press Release

AALDEF Asian American Exit Poll reveals new data on Muslim voter discrimination and Republican crossover for Clinton

Poll shows bipartisan Asian American support for gun control and police reform

New York City…New data shows an Asian American electorate whose members reacted to the racist and anti-immigrant rhetoric of the 2016 campaign cycle in casting their ballots for President. The nonpartisan exit poll of 13,846 Asian American voters was conducted on Election Day by the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) in 12 languages in 14 states.

The following are highlights of AALDEF’s 2016 Asian American Exit Poll:

Among Asian American Republicans, there was a 7.6 percent drop from voters supporting their party’s candidate, Donald Trump, in 2016 as compared to 2012. Most of that crossover went to Hillary Clinton, resulting in a 6.2 percent increase from 2012 in Asian American Republican support for the Democratic candidate.

Margaret Fung, AALDEF Executive Director, said, “When a candidate runs on the promise to ban all Muslims from the United States or build a wall on the border with Mexico, Asian Americans pay attention to the news and understand what that means for immigrants and their families. We can see the effects of Donald Trump’s rhetoric, as 79 percent of Asian American voters that we polled supported Hillary Clinton and 18 percent supported Trump.”

Image by AALDEF

This election brought many Asian Americans to the polls for the first time, with 30 percent identifying as first-time voters, a three percent increase from 27 percent in 2012.

In key states, the Asian American vote has emerged as a deciding factor in federal elections. According to the AALDEF exit poll, in Nevada’s battleground Senate race, Asian American voters swung 65.7 percent to 28.9 percent in favor of Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto, facilitating her narrow victory against Republican Joe Heck by 2.5 points, 47.1 percent to 44.7 percent. Asian Americans are nine percent of Nevada’s electorate, with more than 177,000 eligible voters.

American Muslim voters faced barriers at the polls at a significantly higher rate than non-Muslim voters this year. AALDEF’s exit poll showed that a shocking 46.4 percent of Muslim voters were asked for identification, compared to 32 percent among non-Muslim voters. In New York, where identification is not required to cast a ballot, 40.3 percent of Muslim voters were asked for identification, compared to 26.6 percent of non-Muslim voters. AALDEF previously reported that American Muslim voters in Michigan and New York were asked by poll workers to remove their hijabs and niqabs (head scarves and traditional clothing) and were arbitrarily targeted for identification.

Jerry Vattamala, Director of the Democracy Program, reinforced AALDEF’s resolve to investigate and follow up on these reports of anti-Muslim voter discrimination: “Especially in a post-election climate that has given rise to hundreds of reports of anti-Muslim violence within just a few weeks, it is imperative that civil rights organizations thoroughly investigate all cases of anti-Muslim actions. AALDEF is committed to protecting the rights of American Muslim voters, along with all other voters, in preparation for upcoming gubernatorial and municipal elections across the nation.”

AALDEF’s exit poll results also show that there is broad, bipartisan support for gun control and police reform among Asian American voters. Eighty-two percent of Asian Americans registered as Democrats and 61.4 percent of Asian Americans registered as Republicans said that they support stricter gun laws, consistent with a national trend of bipartisan support for stricter requirements for firearm purchases. AALDEF’s exit poll also shows that 54 percent of Asian Americans registered as Democrats believe that the police do not treat all races and ethnicities equally. A plurality among those registered as Republican shared this sentiment, at 39.3 percent.

Poll sites were selected based on voter registration files, census data, interviews with local election officials and community leaders, and a history of voting problems. Approximately 950 attorneys, law students, and community volunteers were stationed at 91 poll sites on Election Day, generally between 7:00 am to 8:00 pm. Surveys were written in English and 11 Asian languages, and volunteers were conversant in Asian languages and dialects.

AALDEF has released preliminary results from the exit poll here and an initial overview of the voting problems that AALDEF attorneys and volunteers reported from across the nation on Election Day here. This year, 124 law firms, bar associations, and community organizations co-sponsored the exit poll and poll monitoring project.

Later this year, AALDEF will release a full report on its findings from the exit poll. Previous editions of The Asian American Vote can be found here.

For more information, contact:
Jerry Vattamala, Democracy Program Director
212.966.5932 x209