A recent Pew Research Center report states that Asian Americans, comprising of approximately 11 million voting-eligible citizens, continue to be the fastest-growing racial or ethnic group of American voters. According to Pew’s research, the Asian American portion of the US electorate has increased by 139% in the last 20 years — greater than the growth rate of the Hispanic electorate (121%), black electorate (33%), and “white” electorate (7 %) over the same time period. The states with the largest percentages of Asian American “eligible voters” are California, Hawai'i, and Nevada, respectively.
Despite the growth of this group, Asian Americans still make up less than 5% of the total electorate, which is still significantly lower than those of the other major racial or ethnic groups. Moreover demographic data indicate the greatest concentrations of eligible Asian American voters do not live in key 2020 Presidential Election battleground states. Among the battleground states of Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, the Pew Data from 2018 indicate that several of these states’ electorates have fairly small percentages of Asian Americans.
On the other hand, districts in states with small percentages of Asian Americans can still hold districts where Asian American voters are more concentrated. Left-leaning news outlet Vox has called attention to some of these districts, and several Democratic politicians part of the Asian American support group ASPIRE PAC have worked to boost political support in districts where Asian Americans make up a higher proportion of the population. Likewise, recent ads from the Republican Party have targeted key Asian American groups like Indian Americans, in response to their growing prominence in certain counties and cities like Houston, Texas.
Making matters more complicated, some analysts have pointed out that that the swing states may be different than elections past, and have even questioned whether Texas might be more competitive than historic races. The Hill has identified 10 counties across Arizona, Georgia, Maine, Minnesota, Michigan, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wisconsin as significant determinants of the 2020 Presidential Election. Most of these counties have comparatively low Asian American (Asian alone or in any combination) proportions of the electorate. According to 2018 Census Bureau estimates (latest available American Community Survey data), out of these 10 counties identified, Washington County, MN (6.8%) and Tarrant County, TX (6.4%) have the highest percentages of Asian Americans; Muskegon County, MI (1%) and Sauk County, WI (0.8%) have the lowest percentages. As such, it remains unclear whether the continued surge in the Asian American population will be a major influencing political force this fall.
Matthew Sullivan is a Projects Coordinator at the East-West Center in Washington.
Addendum: Please note that Asia Matters for America data and visualizations include data not necessarily incorporated in the Census Bureau or Pew Research Center. For more information on AMA methodology and sources please refer to this link: https://asiamattersforamerica/sources-and-methodology