Asian American voters in eight states continued a decade-long shift towards Democratic candidates, with 79 percent of those polled favoring Democrats in Tuesday’s congressional and state elections. They also rejected an affirmative action ban that won in Michigan.
Preliminary results of a nonpartisan, multilingual exit poll of over 4,600 Asian American voters, released by the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, showed Asian American voter turnout helping Democratic candidates in closely watched races in Virginia , New Jersey and other states.
Most exit poll respondents (87 percent) said that they had voted in a previous election, while 13 percent said 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.
Margaret Fung, AALDEF executive director said, “Asian American voters reacted to sharp ideological differences among the candidates and displayed their awareness of party labels.”
Fung added that the decade-long trend of Asian American voters favoring Democrats contributed to “the dramatic shifts in political power that took place in Tuesday’s midterm elections."
Exit Poll Survey Highlights
Virginia: The exit poll of more than 250 Asian American voters showed 76 percent voted for Democratic senatorial bet Jim Webb, 21 percent voted for incumbent Republican Sen. George Allen, and 3 percent voted for Glenda Parker. After maintaining a slim lead, Webb was declared the winner by 0.3 percent of the total vote (49.6 percent) beating Allen (49.3 percent). Allen is best known among Asian Americans for his derogatory “macaca” remark to a South Asian campaign worker.
New Jersey: this heated Senate race, among more than 370 Asian Americans polled, 77 percent voted for incumbent Sen. Robert Menendez, while 20 percent voted for Republican challenger Thomas Kean Jr.—a 57-point margin. Among all New Jersey voters, Menendez held his seat by an 8-point margin (53 percent to 45 percent).
Maryland: In Maryland ‘s open Senate seat, among over 200 Asian American voters polled, 73 percent chose Democrat Ben Cardin, with 24 percent for Republican Michael Steele, and 3 percent for Green Party candidate Kevin Zeese. Among the general electorate, 55 percent voted for Cardin, 44 percent for Steele, and 2 percent for Zeese.
Pennsylvania: Among more than 200 Asian American voters polled in Philadelphia , 71 percent voted for Democratic candidate Bob Casey, while 29 percent voted for Republican incumbent Sen. Rick Santorum. Among all voters, 59 percent voted for Casey and 41 percent voted for Santorum.
Massachusetts: Democratic gubernatorial candidate Deval Patrick, who became the nation’s second African American elected governor, received support from 75 percent of more than 350 Asian American voters polled in Boston, Dorchester, Lowell and Quincy, with Kerry Healey receiving 21 percent. Statewide, 56 percent voted for Patrick, and 35 percent 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 percent to 42 percent.
Illinois: Democratic incumbent Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich defeated his Republican opponent Judy Baar Topinka with a 10-point lead, 50 percent to 40 percent. In contrast, 99 percent of the 170 Asian Americans polled in Chicago voted for Blagojevich, with 1 percent for Topinka.
New York: Of over 2,300 Asian American voters polled in New York City , 82 percent voted for Democratic candidate for attorney general Andrew Cuomo. Republican contender Jeanine Pirro received 14 percent of the Asian American vote, with 4 percent voting for other candidates. Cuomo led Pirro 58 percent to 40 percent among all voters statewide.
AALDEF has been conducting a nonpartisan exit poll of Asian American voters for 19 years. 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.