Asian-American vote ‘apathetic’

By Xuming Yu and Du Liya Source:Global Times Published: 2014-4-24 17:18:01

Asian-Americans lag behind other ethnic groups in voter turnout because they are "too busy" to vote, according to a recent poll.

The Pew Research Center estimated that about 31 percent of Asian-American eligible voters have cast ballots in midterm elections since 1998, a much lower turnout rate than that of whites and blacks. For the upcoming 2014 midterm election, Asian-Americans have about 9 million eligible voters, making up 4 percent of all eligible voters, while Latinos represent 11.3 percent.

Asian-Americans are considered to have unusual levels of political apathy, even though they give more attention to presidential elections. According to the US census data, Asian-American voter turnout was 47.6 and 47.3 percent in the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections, falling behind the levels of Latinos, which stood at 49.9 and 48 percent respectively, not to mention white and African-American voters.

Though identified as a potential swing vote in the 2012 presidential election, Asian-Americans are often regarded by most local candidates as a group of relatively small size and political influence.

When saying why they did not show up to vote, 37 percent of registered Asian-American non-voters said that they were too busy or that the voting time conflicted with their work or study. Pew also found that most Asian-Americans believed that they would have a better life in the US if they focused on taking care of their own family and not getting involved in politics.

Immigrants make up 74 percent of the Asian-American adult population. Among eligible voters, immigrants vote about as often as the native born, with both groups standing at about 31 percent, the Pew report said.

The same trend was also identified among the mid- and high-level income electorates. In Asian-American families, 62 percent earned an annual income above $50,000, but only 35 percent took part in the mid-term election vote in 2010. Among white families, 54 percent were listed as having annual income of over $50,000 and voter turnout reached as high as 55 percent.

In the 2004 election, 56 percent of Asian-Americans voted for Democratic contender John Kerry and 44 percent voted for George W Bush. In 2008, 62 percent voted for Barack Obama and 35 percent for John McCain. In 2012, 73 percent voted for Barack Obama and 26 percent for Mitt Romney.

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