Press Release

New AALDEF Report: The Asian American Vote in 2016

Multilingual exit poll of 13,846 Asian American voters shows strong support for Democratic candidates in 2016 elections

Today, the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) released a new report with detailed findings from its nonpartisan multilingual exit poll of 13,846 Asian American voters in the November 2016 elections. The exit poll found that the overwhelming majority of Asian Americans backed Democratic candidates for President and Congress. The majority of Asian American voters also supported stricter gun control laws, comprehensive immigration reform, and laws to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination, while half of Asian American voters polled did not think that the police treat racial and ethnic groups equally.

The exit poll results are part of AALDEF’s 14-state multilingual exit poll of Asian American voters in jurisdictions with large Asian American populations. The exit poll was conducted in California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, and Washington D.C.

Four out of five (79%) of Asian Americans polled voted for Hillary Clinton, 18% voted for Donald Trump, and 2% voted for another candidate. Of those surveyed, 59% were enrolled in the Democratic Party and 11% were enrolled in the Republican Party. More than a quarter of those polled (27%) were not enrolled in any political party, while 3% were enrolled in another party,

“Asian Americans are the fastest growing racial group in the country and have the highest rates of naturalization. Despite facing numerous barriers, Asian Americans made their voices heard, particularly in close elections. AALDEF will continue to mobilize volunteers to protect all voters in as many jurisdictions as possible, including in the 2017 elections in New York City, Boston, New Jersey, and Virginia,” said Jerry Vattamala, AALDEF Democracy Program Director.

The vast majority of respondents (78%) supported stricter gun control laws. Overall, 65% supported comprehensive immigration reform, including a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, and 65% supported laws to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations. One half (50%) of voters polled said they do not think that the police treat racial and ethnic groups equally.

The largest Asian ethnic groups in the exit poll were Chinese (35%), Asian Indian (13%), Bangladeshi (11%), and Korean (10%). Nearly one-third (30%) were first-time voters.

AALDEF executive director Margaret Fung said: “With overwhelming Asian American support for Democratic candidates in the 2016 elections and a rejection of the Trump agenda, it will be important to watch the growth of Asian American voter participation in the 2018 midterm elections.”

Key findings include:

One-third of Asian Americans polled are limited English proficient (“LEP”).

One out of three (32%) Asian American voters surveyed said they were LEP, which is defined as reading English less than “very well.” Of all language groups polled, Korean-speaking voters exhibited the highest rate of limited English proficiency at 63%. Sixty percent (60%) of Khmer-speaking voters and 55% of Mandarin-speaking voters were also LEP. Among South Asian Americans, most voters were largely proficient in English, although 38% of Bengali-speaking voters were limited English proficient.

Nearly four of five Asian Americans voted for Hillary Clinton for President.

Four out of five (79%) Asian Americans voted for Clinton and 18% voted for Trump. South Asian American voters, including Asian Indian, Bangladeshi, Indo-Caribbean, and Pakistani Americans, showed the strongest support for Clinton, at 90%. Among Vietnamese Americans, who showed the lowest support for Clinton, 65% voted for Clinton and 32% for Trump.

Asian American women supported Hillary Clinton at higher levels in 2016 as compared to Obama in 2012.

Among Asian American women, 83% for Clinton and 15% voted for Trump. Among Asian American men, 76% for Clinton and 21% voted for Trump. Compared to the 2012 presidential election, 79% of Asian women voted for Obama and 20% for Romney, while 76% of Asian men voted for Obama and 21% for Romney.

Of the Asian Americans who voted for Trump, Protestants and Catholics showed the greatest support.

Across the category of religious affiliation, a large majority of Asian Americans said they voted for Clinton. Protestants showed the greatest support for Trump at 30%, followed by Catholics at 28%. 67% of Protestants and 70% of Catholics voted for Clinton. Muslims showed the strongest support for Clinton at 97%, while 2% of Muslims voted for Trump.

The majority of Asian Americans voted for the Democratic candidate in most congressional races.

In Florida, Nevada, and Pennsylvania, 73% of Asian Americans voted for the Democratic senatorial candidates and 21% voted for the Republican candidates. One exception was in Louisiana: 62% of Asian Americans voted for Republican senatorial candidate Joseph Cao, a Vietnamese American who formerly represented Louisiana’s 2nd congressional district. In other congressional races, 76% of Asian Americans voted for the Democratic House candidates and 16% voted for the Republican candidates.

Asian Americans cited the economy and jobs most frequently as an important factor influencing their vote for President.

The major factors influencing the Asian American vote for president, based on all factors mentioned, were the economy/jobs (22%), immigration/refugees (16%), health care (16%), and education (15%). Other important factors included terrorism/security (10%), women’s issues (10%), and the environment (6%).

Voting barriers persisted.

Voters were asked if they encountered any voting problems:

-291 voters were required to prove their U.S. citizenship. -284 voters indicated that their names were missing or had errors in the list of voters at poll sites. -218 voters had to vote by provisional ballot. -144 voters indicated that no interpreters or translations were available when they needed the help. -126 voters indicated that poll workers did not know what to do. -119 voters were directed to the wrong poll site or voting machine/table within a site. -88 voters indicated that poll workers were rude or hostile.

AALDEF attorney Jerry Vattamala presented the results of the 2016 multilingual exit poll at the New York City office of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP.

Download a copy of the full report here.
View the PPT presentation here.

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

Margaret Fung, Executive Director
212..966.5932 x201

About the Exit Poll:

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 o f Asian American voters in every major election since 1988. In 2016, 124 community organizations and law firms joined AALDEF to mobilize over 800 attorneys, law students, and volunteers to conduct the exit poll and to safeguard the voting rights of Asian Americans.

2016 Asian American Exit Poll – Co-Sponsoring Organizations and Law Firms:

_National Organizations

_Alliance of South Asian American Labor (ASAAL)
Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA)
East Coast Asian American Student Union (ECAASU)
Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (LCCRUL)
National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA)
National Asian Pacific American Law Student Association (NAPALSA)
National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF)
National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA)
National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA)
National Filipino American Lawyers Association (NFALA)
National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA)
OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates
South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT)
South Asian Fund for Education Scholarship Training (SAFEST)
The Sikh Coalition

Local Organizations

Asian Law Alliance
American Citizens for Justice / Asian American Center for Justice (ACJ)
Apex for Youth
Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY)
Asian American Federation of Florida (AAFF)
Asian American Lawyers Association of Massachusetts (AALAM)
Asian American Resource Workshop (AARW)
Asian American Society of Central Virginia (AASoCV)
Asian Americans United (AAU)
Asian Bar Association of Las Vegas (ABALV)
Asian Community Development Corporation (ACDC)
Asian Community Development Council (ACDC)
Asian Employee Network at American Express (ANA – New York)
Asian Pacific American Bar Association of Pennsylvania (APABA-PA)
Asian Pacific American Bar Association of the Greater Washington, D.C. Area (APABA-DC)
Asian Pacific American Bar Association of Virginia, Inc. (APABA-VA)
Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA) – Nevada
Asian Pacific American Lawyers Association of NJ (APALA-NJ)
Asian Pacific American Legal Resource Center (APALRC)
Asian Pacific Islander American Public Affairs Association (APAPA Austin)
Austin Asian American Bar Association (AAABA)
Boat People SOS Delaware Valley
Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center
Center for Pan Asian Community Services (CPACS)
Charles B. Wang Community Health Center (CBWCHC)
Chhaya CDC
Chinese Progressive Association (CPA Boston)
Coalition of Asian Pacific Americans of Virginia (CAPAVA)
Council of Asian Pacific Americans (CAPA)
Dallas Asian American Bar Association (DAABA)
Dallas/Fort Worth Asian-American Citizens Council (DFW AACC)
Filipino American Human Services, Inc. (FAHSI)
Filipino American Lawyers Association of NY (FALA NY)
Filipino American Legal Defense & Education Fund (FALDEF)
Filipino Bar Association of Northern California (FBANC)
Gay Asian Pacific Islander Men of New York (GAPIMNY)
Georgia Asian Pacific American Bar Association (GAPABA)
Greater Boston Legal Services
Indo-Caribbean Alliance
JCI Philippine-New York (Jaycees)
Korean American Bar Association of New Jersey (KABA-NJ)
Korean American Civic Empowerment (KACE)
Korean American Lawyers Association of Greater New York (KALAGNY)
Louisiana Asian Pacific American Bar Association (LAPABA)
Michigan Asian Pacific American Bar Association (MAPABA)
MinKwon Center for Community Action
Muslim Bar Association of New York (MuBANY)
National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum DC Chapter (NAPAWF DC)
National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum NYC Chapter (NAPAWF NYC)
New Mexico Asian Family Center (NMAFC)
OCA Greater Houston Chapter
Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition (PICC)
Pilipino American Unity for Progress NY (UniPro NY)
South Asian Bar Association of New Jersey (SABA-NJ)
South Asian Bar Association of New York (SABANY)
South Asian Bar Association of San Diego (SABA-SD)
South Asian Bar Association of Washington DC (SABA-DC)
South Asian Community Care Organization (SACO)
Southeast Asian Coalition of Massachusetts
Southeast Asian Mutual Assistance Associations Coalition, Inc. (SEAMAAC)
Strong Families NM, of Forward Together
United Chinese Association of Brooklyn (UCA)
Vietnamese American Young Leaders Association of New Orleans (VAYLA)
Voice of Vietnamese Americans (VVA)

School Organizations

Brooklyn Law APALSA
Cardozo APALSA
Columbia APALSA
Columbia School of Social Work Asian Pacific Islander Student Caucus (CSSW API
CUNY School of Law, APALSA
Emory Asian Student Organization (ASO)
Georgetown APALSA
Harvard APALSA
Harvard Students Asian Pacific Coalition (HSAPC)
Hunter Asian American Studies Program
Loyola University New Orleans College of Law, APALSA
Michigan Law APALSA
Princeton Asian American Students Association (AASA)
Santa Clara APALSA
St. John’s APALSA
Tufts Asian Student Coalition (TASC)
UMass Boston Asian American Studies
UMD College Park Asian American Studies Program
University of Miami School of Law APALSA
University of Nevada Las Vegas, William S. Boyd School of Law APALSA
UPenn Asian Pacific Student Coalition (APSC)
UT Austin Center for Asian American Studies

Law Firms

Ballard Spahr LLP
Debevoise & Plimpton LLP
Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner LLP
Fish & Richardson PC
Hogan Lovells
Hunton & Williams LLP
Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP
McCarter & English LLP
Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP
Ropes & Gray LLP
Shearman & Sterling LLP
Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP