NEW YORK (May 5) — The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) has released detailed findings from its multilingual exit poll of Asian American voters during the November 2008 presidential elections. AALDEF, a 35-year-old national civil rights organization, polled 16,665 Asian American voters in 39 cities and in eleven states on Election Day: New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, Michigan, Illinois, Louisiana, Texas, Nevada, and Washington, DC.
In conjunction with Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, AALDEF Staff Attorney Glenn Magpantay presented findings from the 2008 exit poll with comparative information in the following areas: Vote for President; concerns about key issues, first-time voters, voting barriers, and profiles of the Asian American vote by ethnicity, party enrollment, citizenship tenure, and English proficiency.
AALDEF surveyed a total of 186 Asian American voters in Houston, Texas. The five largest ethnic groups surveyed were Vietnamese (54%), Filipino (15%), Asian Indian (9%), Chinese (8%), and Pakistani (7%). Eighty-seven percent (87%) of voters were foreign-born naturalized U.S. citizens, and 12% had no formal U.S. education. Thirty-two percent (32%) were first-time voters.
The majority of Asian Americans voted for Republican candidate John McCain for President. Sixty-one percent (61%) of Asian American voters supported Republican candidate John McCain. Thirty-seven percent (37%) voted for Democratic candidate Barack Obama, and 1% voted for other candidates. Among Asian ethnic groups, Vietnamese Americans gave McCain the most support, with 81% of those polled voting for the Republican candidate.
A plurality of Asian Americans were registered Republicans. Forty percent (40%) of Asian Americans were registered Republicans, 34% were not enrolled in any political party, and 25% of polled voters were registered Democrats. Fifty-five percent (55%) of Vietnamese American voters were registered Republicans, 12% were Democrats, and 32% were not affiliated with any party.
“Economy/Jobs” was the most important issue to Asian Americans. The three most important factors influencing the Texas Asian American vote for President were: Economy/Jobs (59%), Health Care (33%) and Foreign Policy/War in Iraq (30%).
Limited English Proficiency and the need for language assistance. Thirty-eight percent (38%) of respondents in Texas were limited English proficient (LEP). In Houston , 55% of Vietnamese American respondents were LEP and 31% preferred to vote with some form of language assistance.
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 of Asian American voters in every major election since 1988. In the 2004 Presidential Election, AALDEF surveyed 10,789 Asian American voters in eight states. More than 100 community groups and organizations joined AALDEF to mobilize over 1,500 attorneys, law students, and volunteers to conduct the exit poll and to safeguard the voting rights of Asian Americans.
The May 5th presentation was co-sponsored by the OCA – Greater Houston Chapter, Asian American Bar Association of Greater Houston, Asian American Democrats of Texas, Coalition of New American Communities, Houston 80-20 PAC, Indo-American PAC, Korean Chamber of Commerce, Vietnamese Chamber of Commerce, and Texas Asian Republican Caucus.
The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), founded in 1974, is a national organization that protects and promotes the civil rights of Asian Americans. By combining litigation, advocacy, education, and organizing, AALDEF works with Asian American communities across the country to secure human rights for all.