How will presidential candidates win over Asian-American voters?

Aug 8, 2012

Mitt Romney and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell were featured on the front page of a Chinese-language newspaper following a visit to the Northern Virginia’s Asian-American community in June. Credit: Courtesy of Peter Su

According to 2010 United States Census Bureau statistics, Asian-Americans account for more than five percent of the country’s population, with the fastest growth of any ethnic group in the U.S. since 2000. Republican and Democratic experts say targeting the vote of Asian-Americans – those with Japanese, Filipino, Vietnamese, Chinese, Korean, Pakistani and other backgrounds – isn’t just necessary but essential in order to snag a presidential win in November.

In a recent Washington Examiner article, Republican National Committee National Committeeman for California Shawn Steel says GOP candidate Mitt Romney must aggressively reach out to Asian-American voters in battleground states such as Nevada, Michigan, Colorado, Ohio, Florida, Virginia and Pennsylvania.

Steel suggests following the lead of Virginia’s Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell, who won his 2009 election in part by landing 60 percent of the Asian vote. McDonnell engaged churches, schools and newspapers within the Korean, Chinese and Vietnamese communities, sending out mailers in the native languages of those groups.

In 2008, Asian-Americans came out overwhelmingly in support of Barack Obama. Will they do so again, or does he need to do more to hold onto their loyalty? Both candidates have reached out in online video ads to Asian-American voters, but is that enough of an effort? What can the campaigns do to improve their chances with this voter bloc?


Shawn Steel, Republican National Committee national committeeman for California and former California Republican Party chairman

Bill Wong, independent Democratic campaign strategist based in Sacramento

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