First there were soccer moms. Then Nascar dads. Now one of Mitt’s kids shills in Spanish for his dad in a new ad aimed at Latino voters. And the latest voting bloc to be coveted by pols? Asian Americans.
“They’ve started to understand they have the leverage,” says Mike Honda, a Democratic congressman from Campbell, California, and vice chairman of the Democratic National Committee. “A marginalized community has become a margin of victory.”
This is what he’s talking about: even though Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders make up only 5.2 percent of the national population, in Virginia they’re 5.9 %, and in Nevada 8.4%. O-kay. So…big deal, right? A three percentage point difference? A measly .7% difference? Practically margin-of-error stuff, right? Who cares?
Well, in closely contested battleground states, those little digits make a huge difference.
AA’s “potentially could be the deciding force” in states like Nevada, Virginia and Florida, says political prognosticator Larry Sabato, who directs the University of Virginia Center for Politics. “In those close states, every additional vote matters.”
Look! Even hunky Daniel Dae Kim listens to Honda.
Consider, too, that the Asian American population is booming, having grown by 41% nationwide from 2000 to 2011, and that there are a total of 11 battleground states in play come November, and it’s pretty clear the Asian vote will matter. Especially to Democrats: AA’s self-identify as Democrats over Republicans by a 3-1 margin. 73% view Obama favorably. That leaves 27% for Romney.
An “Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders for Obama” Facebook page had 23,150 “likes” as of 6 p.m. on Saturday, July 7. “Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders for Mitt Romney” had 283 “likes.”
By the way, can someone please come up with slightly catchier names for these political fb pages? “Obama’s Asian Tidal Wave” or something? (“Obama’s Yellow Tidal Wave” made me think of pee, so I nixed that one.)
Anyway, come on you Mad Men and Mad Women out there, let’s hear a few ideas.
But — but, but, but — before you stand around patting each other on the back, here’s the sticking point: only 55% of those Asian Americans eligible to vote have registered.
“There’s still a lot of untapped potential,” said Karthick Ramakrishnan, an associate professor of poli-sci at UC Riverside. “If one party is more successful in getting people to get into the habit of registering and voting, history suggests they will continue voting along those lines.” He’s talking about you, 18-24 year old AA’s.
Says Honda about Obama: “I think his style is very Asian-American, thoughtful – he doesn’t make snap decisions.”
It’s bizarre how thoughtfulness is made out as weakness in certain circles. I remember pundits praising George W’s “decisiveness” for “going with my gut” on things like the Iraq War. And, of course, who can forget his “decisive” ignoring of Hurricane Katrina?
People who weigh both sides of an issue, who listen to a variety of opinions from people they respect, are considered “too nuanced.”
Jesus Christ, when we’re talking about the dude or dudette who has a finger on the big red nuclear button, or the power to nominate Supreme Court Justices, I want a truckload of nuance and thoughtfulness!!
So – to the other untapped 45% out there: get off your asses and into a poll booth this November.