All of a sudden, Asian-Americans are voting more Republican

Philip Bump reports:

Note the big swing in the Asian voting bloc, too. In 2012, strong support for the president among Asian-American voters was a surprise. Asian voters preferred the president by 47 points. In 2014, the (low turnout) group split about evenly. It was a 46-point swing.

The full account is here, via Megan McArdle.


They got upper middle class and they're voting their own economic interests. No news there.

Additionally, traditional Asian ideologies (Buddhism, Confucianism) are actually very conservative on many issues (despite westerners' often erroneous understandings of these systems). Again, no surprise.

So, you're saying the way they voted in the last election was a huge surprise?

It's certainly a surprise to some nativists.

Oh, and here's a delicious story calculated to mess with many narratives:

Considering the activities of most people in the world revolve around raising their children, religious worship, and trying to earn a living, yes, politics would generally trend more conservative. In other words, most people have figured out that non-normative sexual practices aren't healthy, they want a connection with the metaphysical, they want to have children and love and be loved by a member of the opposite sex, and they want to keep their stuff and feel in control of their lives. So reality you might say comes out rather conservative.

The messages the Democrats are broadcasting right now are counter to a lot of people's instincts.

I suspect the Democrats and the national media doubling down on Ferguson even after the leak of the convenience store security camera footage of Michael Brown roughing up an Asian shopkeeper didn't help Democrats with Asian voters:

The Obama Administration's obsession with Ferguson even after it proved to be a factual fiasco way back in August was all about angrying up the black vote to turnout in November. I doubt that Asian-Americans like the government encouraging black mobs. Remember the footage of Korean shopkeepers blasting away at black looters in South-Central L.A. in 1992? A lot of Asian voters do.

In Obama's first campaign for president, he presented himself as a person who would 'bridge the partisan divide' and implied a more complicated promise that he would leave America racially healed and integrated. Asian Americans perhaps were sensitive to the desirability of being more able to be integrated into American life and that this integration would include them. As it turned out, the continuing electoral dependence on stoking a sense of victimhood and anger in the black community belied that promise.

For a supposedly post-racial President, Obama sure does like to bring up the topic of race in every conversation.

TAG says a lot in that first paragraph. And if you're really statist and socially prescriptive and feel offended, bear in mind that this framing is a real problem for libertarians, too.

When you tell a guy with a job, a 2,500 square foot house, a wife, and two cars that he's living in a tyranny, you can expect to get laughed at. He might have a lot of legitimate complaints, but chances are the NSA and the drone war and his inability to hire whomever from wherever are low on his list.


Conversely, if you tell a guy working as a pizza deliverer with a pregnant girlfriend that raising the minimum wage won't help him, he might not be too receptive. He would be wrong, but it's still a hard sell.

2012 and 2014 are apples-to-oranges in subgroup analysis. Where's the 2006 to 2010 to 2014 comparison?

Umm, there was a 2010 to 2014 comparison.

It was about 16% 2010 to 2014. But of course, there are different states voting for Senators in those elections. Hawaii for example, Obama's home state and a state with a high Asian population, did not vote for a new Senator. Nor did California. In other words, states with a lot of liberal Asians didn't have the high-stakes races that other states did. Apples to Oranges.

Seems like low-turnout is the key. Asian Americans tend to be relatively apolitical compared to whites. Centre-left Democrat is pretty much the default political affiliation. Relatively recent arrivals without longstanding roots tying them to a specific political affiliation pretty much just fall into this. Due to their high income and academic achievement, Asians really do benefit from conservative policies. The more political an Asian-American is the more she's likely to realize this. On presidential election years, despot being apolitical Asians will turn out because they're high-C personalities and everyone else is voting. On off years, only the subset of political Asians will bother going to the poll.

But this is true of other demographics (like older whites) who didn't experience 47-point party affiliation swings. It also wasn't true of AAs four years ago. Something else is going on.

Yeah, but in 1992 Asians voted more Republican than whites. Asian liberal tendencies are relatively recent. The difference is that back then many still remembered horrific Communist genocides, largely ignored or enabled by Democrats trying to score cheap political points. Post-Clinton, Asians drifted to the apolitical center-left. Since Obama Democrats have embraced class and race conflict, which directly hurts most Asians. So the general pattern seems to be, Asians vote for moderate Democrats until they party (inevitably) does something to piss them off. They'll vote Republican for a little while then drift back.

This is the more interesting question - what was 2010 patterns vs 2014 patterns. Comparing 2012 to 2014 is a bit apples to oranges - the lower overall turnout skews the numbers.
Assuming there was a significant difference between 10 and 14, I'd expect it was because the Tea Party ranting against the 'otherness' of Obama and the need to 'take back america' - in significant part because he lived in Indonesia and of his pigment - led to a repulsion from Republicans. The fervor had died down since then, and the hard core partisans rant more about what Obama has done / is perceived by them to have done then about what he is and where he is from. Ranting about someone's birth certificate and spinning conspiracy theories about his time in SE Asia is a kid - seen as insane. Ranting about the implementation of the ACA and environmental regulation - just partisan complaining.
The candidates helped too - they were well schooled in how to avoid putting the foot into the mouth. And so the (more limited number) of asian voters were more comfortable with Republicans in a year 6 midterm.

Different Groups of Asians Vote differently

Chinese and Indians are overwhelmingly Democrat

Koreans and Japanese are more middle

Vietnamese and Other Groups are more Republican.

The richest Group tends to be the Indians, indicating that there is no link between wealth and Conservative beliefs (Although it might also have to do with the fact that Hindus are the wealthiest, but don't feel welcome among the christian GOP)

I noticed on a personal level that most Indians I know did not bother to vote in 2014 (but nearly all voted in 2012 for Obama).

This may indicate that the Democratic leaning Asians just don't vote as much in midterms while Republican leaners do

This is correct, but the question is what will the Republicans do about it. In Australia conservatives actively court the "chinese shopkeeper" vote, because, heck they're shopkeepers. I bet you can get some apolitical tiger moms pretty roaring up by pointing out that yellow people need higher grades than anyone else to get into a good university.

"I bet you can get some apolitical tiger moms pretty roaring up by pointing out that yellow people need higher grades than anyone else to get into a good university."

It's not going to happen. Our Washington establishment is manned by Ivy League alums who are not about to challenge their alma maters.

Until Asian-Americans take over the media, they're going to have a hard time overturning the Asian quota.

Ivy League admissions make up a vanishingly small proportion of academia. Yes they're very visible, but well less than 1% of colleges graduates are Ivy Leaguers or anything thereabouts. An anti-AA agenda could easily restrict itself to public universities. It could also attack AA if areas that are still elite careers, but barely touch anyone in the "Washington establishment." For example eliminating AA for medical and engineering school, but retaining it for law and business school. This might be harder to justify in an ideologically consistent way, but not impossible. For example one could argue that since the legal system is more about subjective value judgements diversity is still important, but since medicine is an objective science we want to select on competence.

Either way this would produce big wins for Asian Americans, and would be neutral to typical Washingtonian elites. If anything it might help them. Driving more competitive Asians to UCLA Med relieves the pressure on the rich white children applying to Harvard Law. The primary losers would be blacks, hispanics and maybe lower-middle class whites. The former two are solid Democrat anyway, and the latter already opposes affirmative action.

Aren't technical oriented schools already pretty heavily Asian. I thought AA pretty much got banned in Caltech, Berkley, etc.

BTW, poor whites are big victims of AA. They are also underrepresented at the Ivies relative to their test scores. As you can see from the link, its basically the Jews fault. Those I'm sure there was some elite whites overrepresented as well.

I have never understood why the Republicans have never gone after AA and Asians. It seems like an easy win. The Asian vote is up for grabs and nothing is more likely to fire them up than by focusing on reverse discrimination at all levels from magnet high schools to universities. Going after the Ivy League for anti-Asian discrimination in particular would play well to their populist base and would seem to be a slam dunk. And they could stand up for meritocracy at the same time. Asians will remain a small minority for some time, but they are a very rich group that is growing fast. Even if nothing concrete gets done, making threatening noises and focusing the spotlight on the Ivy League's admissions policies would help out Republicans on many margins.

Dropping the abortion issue would really help them clean up there. My wife is mainland Chinese and she finds it absolutely astounding that opposition to abortion is considered a viable stance for a presumably reasonably thinking mainstream politician.

By AA do you mean Blacks?

Clover, I think wiki is referring to "affirmative action"

Makes more sense.

One problem is that affirmative action is part of a broader conflict that has been going on in America for centuries. (Areas of the US that were originally settled by Royalist Englishmen still vote red with amazing consistency. And vice versa for Parliamentarians). Even if it hurts their self-interest, it's hard to ignite an outsiders political passion with enough gusto for them to want to throw themselves what's essentially an intra-European conflict. (Blacks obviously are intimately tied in enough with American history to make them rooted in this conflict). One might re-frame the issue to play into existing Chinese tensions. One thing that is little noticed, because of the opaqueness of Chinese culture and its closed political system, is that there's a subdued, but tremendous, rivalry between the Southerners (Cantonese/Shanghainese) and Northerners (Mandarins).

Southerners generally feel like they do all the hard work, and Northerners use their political connections to siphon wealth away. They also feel like they're the objectively superior sub-culture, and it's merely an accident of history that Beijing's in charge. (Pro-tip: If you ever meet someone from Shanghai, refer to them as Shanghainese instead of Chinese). Most Chinese American citizens are Southerners, but Asian slots are increasingly being taken up by foreign students from China. Most of whom are politically connected enough to get an exit visa and are disproportionately from Beijing. Universities bias towards them because they pay full tuition.

Reverting to a more objective admissions criteria would all else being equal help American-Chinese more than Chinese-Chinese. Conservative whites are charged about affirmative action, not only because it hurts them, but also because they view blacks as political opponents. Chinese Americans don't have the same innate feeling. Framing the affirmative action issue as another way that Beijing is screwing over hard-working Cantonese, even on another continent, would probably have more of an emotional appeal.

Hi Doug,

I am just so utterly impressed with your deep understanding of the Chinese demographics that I want to also say something. I am a Chinese national (also Southerner) currently studying in the states.

It is very true that generally Southerners, especially South-east, harbor resentment towards the political biases that favor Beijing and North. You are also correct that the Northerners are disproportionately represented among Chinese students. However, it is not true that the foreign students they themselves are politically tied to Beijing. China does not regulate passport issurance based on location. The problem is that, for many years, the educational resources have been directed towards elite schools in the North. Give a few schools as an example:

1. Tsinghua University, top university in China, was initially founded by the Boxer Indemnity Scholarship Program. Basically, it's funded by the "returns" of a shameful war treaty. The primary goal of this program was to bring Chinese talents to U.S. Even now, Tsinghua University remains top of the list in terms of the number of graduates who go broad.
2. University of Science and Technology of China, was founded in accordance with a Mao-era political initiative.
3. Peking University, another top university located in Beijing.

These top schools are located in North China and all inevitably recruit all local students yet they receive national funding from the government. So Southerners have always felt bad about tax money not being used to fund southern Universities but redirected to the North. The higher education programs in U.S. are highly merit-based when it comes to recruiting foreign students. But due to the educational resource bias, the Northerners, over all, do get better education and thus higher chances in entering U.S. universities. That being said, the Economic Reform (venerable Deng) has changed this unfair situation greatly. Lots of southern Universities have advanced to elite status thanks to the economic boom. Examples include Zhejiang University, Nanjing University, Fudan University and Shanghai Jiaotong University. These schools are all located near Shanghai.

American-Chinese can be roughly divided to two subgroups.

a) Early migrant workers. The descendants of the Rail Road Construction workers. Victims of human trafficking. Illegal immigrants.
b) New immigrants. Educated in top Chinese universities and then immigrated to U.S. Remember the first wave of new immigration was in early 1990s, so many of them have become U.S. citizens by now.

These two subgroups have similarities (family-oriented, cultural affinity etc.) but also significant differences. The new immigrants have been very apolitical until recently. The reason why they moved to U.S. was partly because they are voting by their feet (me included). However, many of them decided not to apply for U.S. citizenship because that would automatically revoke their Chinese citizenship, thanks to a stupid cold-war era law of PRC.

One issue that has agitated this group was Affirmative Action. They have come to U.S. for better environment. They probably do not care about most current hot-button issues such as gay marriage, tax code reform, abortion, except for affirmative action, because this single one is directly related to the prospects of their kids. The family-oriented value makes them feel affirmative action is stripping the hard-earned educational opportunities off their kids, due to ”political nonsense“, almost the same way they feel about Communist Party redirecting educational resources to northerners. They felt it's political nonsense because they‘ve viewed America as an overall more fair system for their entire life: if you work hard, the system will reward you. Chinese immigrant families, poor or rich, all save an disproportionate amount of funds for their kids' education. The "disproportionate" percentage of Asian students in U.S. elite universities was attributed to the family's decade-long effort. In fact, many of them already feel being oppressed by the Asian cap at elite universities ( That princeton study basically found Asian kids had to score 140 points higher even than white kids. So they pretty much they feel the same way as a poor white kid seeing a rich black kid getting admitted to college. ---"Oh, that kid got admitted but mine didn't, not because my kid didn't work hard but because skin-color."

Doug and Zheng,

Thank you for sharing these fascinating perspectives. MR at its best.

In addition to the two groups mentioned by Zheng, there is a third group of Chinese immigrants primarily from Taiwan and Hong Kong who arrived in the '60s-'80s, before mainland China had really opened up. If you're familiar with the difference between Pinyin and Wade-Giles romanization, you can frequently identify a member of this group from the spelling of their last name.

It should be a surprise to no one that Chinese immigrants from Taiwan are especially likely to prefer policies that keep America strong enough to deter mainland Chinese aggression.


Thanks for pointing this out! Yes, I mistakenly left it out.

For those who came from Hongkong/Taiwan before Mainland opened up, I think they also fall roughly into those two subgroups. First, there are those who fled communism via Hongkong, before Mainland opened up. Their political perspectives align mostly with the migrant workers.

Secondly, there highly educated Taiwanese and Hongkongers seeking bigger opportunities in America. This special group, with last names spelled in Wade-Giles are a lot like mainland New Immigrants, in my view. A lot of the older generation New Immigrants resent communist party probably more than anyone. Younger generation New Immigrants tend to have a less harsh view toward PRC oligarchy but still can be very critical. The issue between Mainland/Taiwan are historical issues. Many older generation mainlanders feel the mainland has lost the Chinese culture (because of the Cultural Revolution in 60s) and that Taiwan is the true heir of Chinese culture. I myself, for instance, have always appreciated talking to Taiwanese friends in here. They do generally have a better grasp of Chinese traditional idioms and phrases. Plus they use the traditional writing system. For the mainlander New Immigrants, "Taiwan" sometimes is just synonymous with the traditional Chinese virtues. Examples include a lot of them would prefer buy groceries of a Taiwanese brand (guarantee of food safety and honest pricing). So overall, I would say the educated mainlander New Immigrants share very similar views with the Taiwanese and Hongkongers; and some of my mainlander friends are among the most vocally against PRC government aggression -- and this is not difficult to comprehend. After all, they came all the way to the new continent in order to get away from PRC.


I think you are wrong about the first group. I have read a lot about the first group of Chinese migrant workers during the Gold rush, etc in history books. But I have never met a Chinese person from that group. I suspect that group is no longer around or have already been swallowed up by another group. Maybe they moved back to China / Never had children (migrant workers were not allowed to bring wives) / Completely assimilated.

I have a different perspective: I see Chinese Americans as 2 groups:
1. Old Chinese:
1st Generation: Moved here from around the 1970s - 1990s. Usually dirt poor and looking for new opportunities. Extremely hard working, entrepreneurial, penny pitching, strong focus on education and status advancement, likes to purchase expensive large houses that are empty inside (save money on furniture). Many have degrees from American universities. Split between Chinese from Taiwan (who have strongly negative views of the PRC) and Chinese from mainland China, (many have positive or neutral views about the PRC). Between these two groups, theres a sort of cease fire where hot button issues between China and Taiwan are not discussed or are toned down in each other's presence. This group also includes Chinese from malyasia, vietnam, etc..
2nd Generation: The children of first generation Chinese are now around 5 to 35 years old. Almost all have college degrees. Dressed in mostly boring typical American styles. Are generally politically inactive. But many are highly active in politics. Generally have a slightly negative view of PRC and have little interest in Asian affairs such as: diaoyu islands / tibet / taiwan / etc. Usually have very American views about the role of government and a person's rights.

2. New Chinese (FOBS): Wealthy and/or well educated Chinese mostly from the mainland. If they have children, children usually received the first few years of their education in China before moving to America. Dressed very fashionably in Asian styles. Usually have a poor understanding of politics, and don't really vote. Also often have a pretty poor grasp of the English language and typically don't mix with Old Chinese.


I should have pointed this out. I kinda generalized my categorization basing upon socioeconomic class. The first group are lower in the class rank. And yes, there are those people leaving in shadow. Some villages in Fujian Province of China basically emptied and everybody had sought different ways to migrate to America. It's an open secret that the U.S. consulate in China took longer time examining Fujian province applicants because of doubt of their immigration tendency. There are almost an industry here that teaches these migrants to go to Flushing, NY, find a restaurant to work illegally in and apply for Aslyum visa on the basis of communism persecution the first day they arrive. I actually know of a few chefs following this protocol. They care mostly about their own circles and some form gangs in Chinatowns: 福清帮 (Fujian Youth Gang) is one of the most prominent name of these gangs.

Your perspective is also very interesting. And although it does a fair amount of stereotyping but I think it's generally true. Many of my peers and myself are 1st generation but I didn't come in the 90s. From a Chinese middle class family as opposed to a poor one. I came here so much because of big opportunities in America but because America is currently the world leader in science and engineering. I can get a quality education here and an American diploma is highly valued back in China.

The reason I didn't include the New Chinese is because they are typically not voters. The New Chinese typically came from affluent mainland families but not highly educated. Their parents became rich over night because they won the big gamble during societal change and privatization of state assets. Or maybe they have close ties with the Party. In fact, the kids of many Politiburo members are currently living overseas. The current President Xi's daughter is currently studying at Harvard. It would be untrue to dismiss them as "not speaking English". It's more like they do not care to become American citizens. To many of those families, they stay in Western countries because of lack of extradition treaties. Those parents typically have massive amount of grey income and they are afraid of losing everything once the "anti-corruption" wind sweeps the mainland. They just need their kids to be in a safe haven. And because of the social class gap between this New Chinese group and other regular legal Chinese immigrants, indeed like you pointed out, they do not talk to each other.

Out here in California the asian vote is killing affirmative action.

It's pretty misleading to discuss Asian-Americans as if they were a cohesive voting block, like African Americans or White evangelicals.

For example, South Asians are more heavily Democratic than are East Asians.

Also, if you break it down at the state level, Asian-Americans in conservative states often vote for Republicans for state office.

Finally, Asians may register as Democrats but they often crossover to vote for Republicans.

I know it isn't PC, but do you honestly think it is all that misleading to talk of AA's as a single voting block? Wendy Davis just lost Texas by 20 points and yet carried AA's 92-8, even Latino's split relatively close to even.

Poor communication on my part. I meant to convey that Asians aren't as politically cohesive as AA's.

Yes exactly. What exactly is the common experience of a rich Indian immigrant, a Vietnamese refugee and a Russian? All Asian-Americans...

I believe Russians are put in the European bucket and there aren't enough Indian immigrants to really skew the numbers one way or another. The vast majority of these immigrants are Chinese/Japanese/Koreans.

Maybe they realize that they are being implicitly bundled-in as part of the Great White Enemy by the more extreme, identity politics wing of the Democratic party. College admissions being the most clear example.

It's been weird to follow the media's recent obsession with diversity in Silicon Valley as they tiptoe around the fact that Asians are enormously over-represented in the tech industry and that by contrast the percentage of whites in companies like Google is pretty much on par or even slightly below their share of the population.

I doubt whatever's being said in Mandarin or Hindi about the people who write those articles encourages the supporting of their political objectives.

College admissions probably have something to do with it, as well as Affirmative Action in general. The logic behind preferences for Hispanics over whites is pretty sketchy, that behind preferences for Hispanics over Asians is absurd. I don't think I've heard a respectable explanation for this--I can think of a few myself, but the only one that isn't totally offensive is along the lines of "Asians are better off than Hispanics, therefore they must be benefiting from the Power Structure unjustly".

I have a hard time believing that Michael Brown and similar events don't have anything to do with it either. The spectacle of some random town being singled out for mass civil disorder over a dead thief of the sort with whom I'm sure many Asian immigrants are uncomfortably familiar can't have gone unnoticed. Conspiracy theories don't seem to be popular among AAs, so they probably don't tend to think the federal government is secretly stoking the whole fiasco, but they're clearly *associated* with it. Plus if they do want to go down the rabbit hole there are plenty of people who will gladly make connections between Democratic politics and urban vibrancy.

Charlie's exactly right. The Dem strategy is to convince blacks and Hispanics that they are victims of The Enemy. Now obviously whites are supposed to be the enemy, but where does that leave Asians? They get lumped in, and they know it, and they don't like it.

The Dems have yet to figure out how to convince Asians that they are an aggrieved minority, and that their only path to salvation is to vote Democrat. Hence they have a choice. Don't be shocked that they use it.

Asians do what it takes to get ahead. Amongst UMC professionals on the coast that mostly means being a center-left Democrat, but they are so unpopular right now that one can get away with voting Republican. Even Jon Stewart didn't vote in this election, if that is an indicator of what hip strivers attitudes toward Democrats are these days I don't know what is.

Ha, that was a joke - Stewart did vote. Sometimes folks don't get that what the comedian says should be taken with a grain of salt...
Interesting that you identify a 55 year old comedian as the bellweather for 'hip strivers'.
Also - get off my lawn.

Yawn! I always thought the whole Democratic "Minority Voter" Demographic was greatly exaggerated and all the Rs had to do to be less offensive to minorities and immigrants to increase support. And this year, the Senate races improved on this and the real will the 2016 Republican primary with field of locust for candidates.

It's possible that Asians might be more likely to vote GOP if they more ardently supported displacement level non-White immigration, but the Blacks and Hispanics would never support a fiscally conservative party.

Latinos just split 45-55 for Abbott in Texas which is the best the R's have done since Bush won their majority. I think AA's are much more monolithic to your point, probably having to do with them being overwhelmingly urban.

And only a 16-point shift since 2010, IE: The last midterm.

That's still HUGE, but:

a) When they're 4% of the electorate, does it matter?
b) What changed since 2012 -2014 to get the extra 30 points? Was it the additional voter turnout being more or less 100% Democrat? Or was there something else going on in 2010/2014 that wasn't going on in 2012.

It matters in certain states. Virginia is around 7% Asian American and Nevada is 9%. Those are important swing states in Presidential elections and a shift from 75% Democrat to 50/50 means increasing the Republican vote share by 2% in Virginia and as much as 4% in Nevada.

To put it another way, if Virginia's Asian Americans voted like they did in 2012, Mark Warner would have already won Virginia by a three point margin. Now it looks like they might need a recount.

In Maryland, with its 6% AA population, the shift away from Democrats certainly helped swing the governor's race.

Exactly what I would expect. I currently live in Asia (Thailand) and write about the south east Asian regions. The vast majority of Asians in the region and elsewhere are conservative, particularly as they become more affluent so, no, not really surprised they are in the US either. Interesting article but not surprised

Could it be that the sample of Asian Americans who voted in 2012 is fundamentally different than the sample that voted in 2014? Nah, couldn't be. Let's go on constructing one-size-fits-all race-based narratives that deliberately ignore any diversity within our much-hallowed voting "blocs".

Do you have any evidence?

It is a HUGE swing, nobody is trying to force a narrative, there has got to be a reason and just saying "well different people could have voted" doesn't explain enough of it.

Voter turnout was under 50% in most areas. Assume that is representative of Asian Americans, even though I suspect it is an overestimate. That means that *even if* the set of registered voters in 2012 and 2014 was identical (no change via birth, death, immigration, moving from state to state, etc.), it would be possible to see a 100% swing without any single individual changing their preference. The problem just gets worse when turnouts are lower and when the composition of the electorate changes.

And why is the burden of proof on me? Problems like this crop up over and over again in any aggregated multidimensional data set. Scientists usually reserve judgement on questions like these until finer-grained data are available. I'm not sure why this case would be any different.

And Jay, since you literally said nobody is trying to force a narrative, there has got to be a reason, I recommend you watch Tyler's old Ted talk from 2009:

"It is a HUGE swing,"

I think it's too big to be true. I'm pretty sure the Asian vote wasn't as Democratic as claimed by the Edison exit poll in 2012, and it may not be as Republican as claimed in 2014.

Exit polls are tricky to do right, especially for minority groups. You have to pick out the precincts you are going to send interviewers to ahead of time, and that can cause trouble. For example, Edison admitted in 2005 that they overstated Bush's share of the Hispanic vote in 2004 because when they were making up their list of heavily Hispanic precincts to interview at, they wound up with two too many Cuban precincts.

So, it's best not to put too much weight on any single number in any single exit poll.

Good point. The sample of Asian Americans voting this time could be different than in 2012, and also a different sample of Asian Americans could be *exit polled*. Two different confounding factors that need to be discounted before race-based narratives of any stripe can be believed.

Is this really a surprise? Democrats are increasingly treating Asians as "whites" because Asians as a group are more successful. Since this doesn't fit into the narrative that success is determined by racial metrics instead of other non-racial attributes, liberals are excluding Asians as being minorities or people of color. This was on prominent display just this year as liberals ignored the large numbers of Asians in high tech firms when they claimed such companies didn't include minorities, or when liberals moved to discriminate against Asians in racial preferences at universities. However, liberals know they can't continue to make claims how racist everyone is by acknowledging this, so Asians have become white by default.

As Asians see more liberal policies penalize them for being successful, expect more to vote Republican.

I'm East Asian, and the mindset of those of us in California is exactly as Doug mentioned earlier. The default is to be mostly apolitical and vote usually in a center-left pattern. That can change on a dime for certain race-specific issues, such as affirmative action, which Asian lawmakers in California blocked. With that said, there are underlying cultural conservative tendencies, tempered by religious agnosticism. I'd say most of us have a preference for rewarding hard work, cutting the safety net, lowering taxes, streamlining government, decreasing illegal immigration, and conducting a less interventionist foreign policy. At the same time, we dislike demagoguery, organized religion, anti-intellectualism, and social conservatism/intolerance/bigotry.

Does that make me a typical D or R voter? It's hard to say, but the Republican party nationally has certain platforms and actions that prevent me from voting for them all or even most of the time. Examples of these include early Bush-era saber rattling towards China, expansion of Medicare, NCLB, fire-breathing fundamentalist Christianity, fixation on anti-abortion and anti-stem cell research, and ethnic slurs (including those directed at blacks and Hispanics).

I guess my ideal party would be a classical liberal one, like the FDP in Germany.

I nominate you for GOP chair.

"ethnic slurs"

Like what? Seems like you're trying to say something without saying it directly.

Can you give an example of "fire-breathing fundamentalist Christianity" at the party level? Also, NCLB and Medicare expansion (I dont' like them either) were both bipartisan.

Come to think of it, what unprovoked saber rattling towards China was there that hasn't been going on for two decades?

It's certain things that involve individual members of the party. Of course the national or state party won't put any of these things on their official platforms, but occasional slips by nominees show what most of them think but suppress vocalizing.

Ethnic slurs - examples include the macaca moment by Allen, accusations by Gingrich of poor black children not working and that they should clean toilets, or at a local level calling a Sikh (Harmeet Dhillon) a "Taj Mahal princess" and Muslim terrorist sympathizer. That's not to mention all the coded messages being sent since Nixon's southern strategy, most recently seen with all the insinuation that Obama is a foreign Kenyan Communist.

Christianity - 10 Commandments erected in front of a courthouse, pledge of allegiance, constant claims by candidates that their faith guides their decision-making, using biblical arguments to justify opposition to abortion, gay marriage, anti-evolution.

NCLB, Medicare - while they were bipartisan, they occurred under Bush's watch, with his backing, and with a Republican congress (IIRC).

China - I remember Condoleezza Rice circa 2000 talking about China being the greatest threat to security in the world. She quickly changed her tune after 9/11. It was around that time that the Hainan Island incident happened as well, and there was a lot of anti-China rhetoric coming from the right.

The big problem with trying to be fiscally conservative and politically correct at the same time is an inability to answer the question of why non-Asian minorities do so poorly under capitalism.

Many Asian Americans, especially first generation immigrants, can be mildly racist towards Hispanics and Blacks. It all boils down to the traditional Asian value. It goes that there are three milestones of life: complete a good education, establish a career, raise a family responsibly. And many follow this life pattern like tested wisdom. After talking to some of my liberal white friends, they found this perhaps the single most biggest cultural difference. Asian parents keep telling their kids to make good use of their 20s to earn a good degree and establish a good career, even this means sacrificing a lot of leisure time. It would be "squandering youth" if the time is not spent forging that career. Yet my friends (white family) said their parents told me that it's almost the opposite they've been told. They consider "squandering youth" as not enjoying the time to the fullest and playing the hardest.

The Asian parents consider good parenting means to safe-guard your kids, to jump start their career, paying for their house down payment when they get married. Lots of them try super hard to make ends meet just because they moved to a good school district. It's almost like the parents' responsible to sacrifice they themselves for the kids' well being. From this perspective, asians can be mildly racist towards Hispanics/Blacks when they see irresponsible parenting. On some Chinese online forums, it's not uncommon to see they stereotype teenage mothers, homeless kids with those ethnicities.

So I agree that even Asian Americans are not politically correct when it comes to answer this difficult questions. Lots of them think it's just because non-Asian minorities are not as good parents. And it does sound very offensive.

Ethnic slurs - I'd be careful recounting these, the D's have had much more them in recent time as Biden as had more camera time. Attributing R's the foreign Kenyan Communist as if nothing was ever meanly said about Bush? Please, if you don't want to vote R just say so and don't veil your reasons in things that can said about either party's gaffs while ignoring one side completely.

Christianity - The commandments are on a lot of courthouses, not just the red ones. Yes more of them are R's but I'll believe this is a problem when the D's put up all those atheist candidates or when R's ACTUALLY pass religion-based bills that are unpopular or unconstitutional.

China - The D's have been crowing about China just as much on the economic front, again if you want to vote D and be oblivious to everything wrong with them then go right ahead, but don't pretend like you could go either way if only these things weren't true.

I don't think Asians (or many whites for that matter) are directly voting Democratic because they are outraged by whatever some Religious Right politician said. Rather, they are correctly perceiving that religious fundamentalists are low status and don't want the association.

That could explain it but aren't the D's a coalition of perceived low status groups sans Asians?

I'm also East Asian from California. Richard is dead on about Asian-Americans. Most of us are apolitical and register as independent (Something like 45% - 55% independent, ~30% D, ~15% R). And overall, we vote center-left. However, it is probably important to point out that Asian-Americans generally have a strongly ingrained conservative streak. And we aren't particularly loyal to a specific party, often switching sides on the same ballot or the next cycle.

Asian-Americans are usually Socially Liberal and Fiscally Conservative. Usually, fiscal issues are the most important to us: we want lower taxes, we support small businesses, support accessible quality education for our children, are willing to consider reductions of welfare and social security, and want a downsized military.

However, glaring mistakes from a party can easily cause an emotional vote on social issues. Issues that turn me off from the GOP: immigration, anti-abortion, anti-gays, minority disconnect, tea party extremism, hate speech, and unending support of militarism.
Also, a lot of Asians are agnostic/atheist and are uncomfortable with grand public displays of Christian faith. Especially when Christianity is used as a basis for government policy.

I would say most Asians-Americans are on the fence with illegal immigration, many of us are mildly racist against latinos and "illegal immigrants" give us convenient excuses for our racism. However, the GOP's wields it's arguments against illegal immigration like a shotgun. And it often hits Asian-Americans who see it as racist and xenophobic towards not just latinos, but asians as well. And some of the harsher language against latinos by the GOP go too far, even for the most racist Asians.

Last election, my family voted mostly democrat. This election we voted mostly republican. We voted republican since we simply felt like the polices of this year's republicans were more in line with what we believe in. It helped a lot that the republicans backed off on their anti-gay, anti-etc. rhetoric this year.

America's current stance on the senkaku/diaoyu islands is that they are administered by Japan and is covered by the Japan-America defense pact. This is infuriating to many Chinese-Americans who think of those islands as sovereign territory of China. You probably never heard of the islands, but there are many issues in Asia like these that are important to some of the Asian-American electorate. It is best for American politicians to avoid these issues and take a neutral stance. Support for either side will often alienate a portion of the Asian-American electorate.

Why do Asians care about the homosexual issue?

Sorry for the confusion. I was initially talking about Asian-American voters in general. But I briefly switched to just talking about me specifically.
So, I said "Issues that turn me off from GOP." I probably have kept the entire paragraph about Asian-Americans in general. But I wanted to add a bit of my own experiences to it.

From what I gather. Most 1st generation asian americans don't care about gay rights. However, many 2nd generation asian-americans go to college and become politically active in a very liberal atmosphere. But I know many asian-american youth who, like me, are recent college grads and feel strongly about these social issues.

However, I should point out that when people talk about "Asian-American" in California they are usually talking about Chinese, Taiwan, Vietnamese. Koreans tend to be aggressive Christians and will have different views on social issues.

I think many people pick up gay issues more because they dislike Christians and particularly evangelical Christians rather than because they have any real feeling that gays are getting a bad deal.

I'm not religious, but I've noticed if I ever express any doubt about gay marriage, people assume I'm some raging bigot taking orders from my priest. By and large they've never actually thought about gay marriage, they just know the religious right doesn't want it and those guys are EVIL, so it must be good.


I think the default/neutral position in naturally pro-gay rights. If you have nothing against gay marriage, than why stop gay marriage?

So I would say its more than just hatred for evangelical Christians. Christianity is definitely a big part of the picture though. Christianity supplies most of the arguments against gay marriage.

The default/neutral position is not to have the state involved in marriage at all. Marriage is expensive and the subsidy requires a justification.

I'm glad you acknowledged the role of hatred against Christians. In my experience, most arguments against gay marriage (and I'm hardly saying they were all correct) were economic (why are we subsidizing two working guys with no kids?) or social welfare (single-mom squared arguments). Actual religious arguments were a pretty small part of the debate.

So the Japan-America defense pact is solely the fault of the R's and is a reason they vote for D's? I'm confused.

I'm suspicious of this, the vote swing was huge, it might have been some mistake in the polling. But maybe Asians see the central American Camp of Saints on the border, the Ferguson chimpout, and the ebola thing and start to think their interests are better served by the Republicans.

Here's a map of the senate elections for this year:,_2014#mediaviewer/File:2014_Senate_election_map.svg

Many of the big left-wing states where Asians live, California, Florida, New York all are not holding Senate elections, the states involved are redder than they would otherwise be. This might explain some of it.

One would expect coastal Asian to be more liberal, partly because of the population in general but also because of conformist sentiment.

Naw, Asian-Americans are swing voters. Usually not very loyal to any particular camp, and it is really easy to convince them to switch sides.

Its more likely to do with lower turnout of young voters during mid term elections. The passing of trendy Obama. And that the core issues for asians are still: economy/jobs, education, and supporting small business.

Democrats in California made some serious mistakes on the education front: cut funding for schools -> lowered acceptance rate of prestigious public universities + increased tuition costs. Democrats also threatened to bring back affirmative action -> reverse discrimination against asians -> asians would be rejected from college not because of a lack of effort/ability, but for skin color.

This happened in Canada as well. It was held out as proud that the conservatives were racist.

My research into 2012 results suggested the very poor Romney performance among Asians reported in the Edison national exit poll was exaggerated. The even larger Reuters-Ipsos panel reported that Romney did less badly among Asians, so the truth probably lay in between.

I married a white chick and have a little half-asian baby now and it's obvious Democrats hate white people.
So to hell with them.

John Derbyshire says welcome, do come in.

Arthur Hu's Rule of Asian-American Voting is that Asians tend to be slightly more conservative than their white neighbors, but tend to have liberal white neighbors.

It needs to be said - Asian-Americans tend to be snobs.

Meaning - Asians look down upon blue-collar and conservative Christian whites.

This goes a long way to explaining the Asian Democratic vote.

This is certainly the attitude that comes across from the self-appointed representatives of all Asian-Americans above.

Perhaps this explains why (Californian, East Asian) Richard's description of Republicans strikes me as drawn from liberal caricatures. Take one example, the objection that Republicans claim to be guided by their Christian faith. Anti-gay-marriage candidate Obama made the same claim.

Agreed, all those successful agnostic and atheist D candidates have proven him correct. They claim it guides them because they're asked about it more so than the other side, plane and simple. Everyone was worried 50 years ago when we elected a Catholic president and it didn't make one lick of difference then and it hasn't since.

It's not that Ds are running agnostic/atheist candidates, but rather that they don't make religion a big part of their platform or identity. Contrast that to Rs who constantly throw around their promotion of "traditional American" values. Rs are also more likely to impose their religiosity on others, as seen with social issues like abortion, gay marriage, expression of non-Christian/Jewish religions.

Oh really, until it became majority popular with the voters, the D's made those same religious cases against gay marriage but "evolved" when the tide turned. I would suggest you turn off the MSNBC for once and learn the arguments of the party you obviously don't support but won't admit it. If you looked at the platforms of the R's that just won their elections, I'll bet none of them mentioned the things you think they're constantly harping on.

Expression of non-Christian/Jewish religions? Now you're just trolling.

I was referring to Steve Sailer's comment.

You mean Asians are realizing that the Dem agenda of anti-Asian affirmative action, high taxes on material success, and misguided education "reform" is contrary to the interests of Asian-Americans?

I'm with those who say that either the polling was wrong, or the two populations were dramatically different--like, maybe, Filipinos don't show up for midterms or left the country. Thinking that this is somehow reflective of a change in their mindset is not just reading dove intestines, but reading chicken guts believing they're doves..

Big mistake to forget that Chinese are a goodsized chunk of new illegal aliens--as are Filipinos.

Also worth remembering that Asians--Indians, Pakistanis, Koreans, and probably Chinese--are dominating the franchise market because they can use $ to start a business--and then employ illegal Chinese and Hispanic labor. Or, as was recently the case in Virginia, import illegal Pakistanis and imprison them.

"many of us are mildly racist "

Mildly racist? MILDLY racist? Take the most delusional liberal caricature of a Missippi white guy and triple for an approximation of the overall racism of recent Chinese immigrants.

I'm always a little surprised how many Chinese openly support genocide. But one shouldn't generalize that to all Asians. Generalization is what bad people do.

Least, representative, midterm election, since WWI.

I'm not even sure what that means but either way it doesn't mean you just get to dismiss the result. If true, the fact that one side couldn't be bothered to even come out to vote does say something, they didn't all just forget.

That sounds like a strong mandate for tax cuts. No taxation without representation!

In any event the election was perfectly representative, as 100% of eligible voters had the option to vote. Thankfully, many wisely decided not to repeat their mistakes of prior election, and I salute them.

The reason I think is likely racial symbolism. Asian Americans turned out heavily for Obama just because they wanted to vote for a racial minority, for the sake of solidarity, or just the symbolism of having a non-white president. Not because they lean liberal.

Hey look, an immigrant group not dedicated to canceling out my vote!

Asians tend to be independents and fairly pragmatic politically. They went heavily for Obama, but they're not so invested in him that they support Democrats after six years of what is generally seen as failure.

The Democrat identity-politics coalition can only hold together well if everyone has common goals for state intervention -- which of course ran into problems in California because affirmative action is essentially replacing Asian kids with blacks and hispanics, leaving whites largely unaffected.

Also, since you can't throw a stick in the political realm without hitting some talking head asking what the GOP is going to do for minorities, it's interesting commentators seldom ask why Democrats do so poorly among whites, or talk about the Democrats' "white problem," or ask Democrat candidates "why should white people vote for you?" The implicit understanding is that whites neither deserve nor need government intervention (past Democratic institutions like Jim Crow notwithstanding), but Asians have higher incomes than whites and should tend to favor race-neutrality over race-interventionism in addition to not supporting income-based redistribution that mostly hurts them for the same reasons affirmative action admissions hurt them.

Comments for this post are closed