Though Asian Americans are often pigeonholed as a demographic that prioritizes education above all other issues, a new poll shows that’s not completely accurate.
Data from an AAPI Data/AP-NORC Poll shows that inflation is the top issue for Asian voters this year, and experts say political campaigns might need to shift their approach if they want to make headway.
“These data really confirm what those who’ve been paying attention to Asian American political and public opinion have known for some time,” said Janelle Wong, senior researcher at data and civic engagement nonprofit AAPI Data. “The Asian American political agenda is much broader than some might assume.”
In the past, politicians have leaned heavily on stereotypes when unprepared for questions on the Asian American electorate, Wong said.
“They have this kind of knee-jerk kind of response when they’re asked, ‘Oh, what are the issues that Asian Americans care about?’” she said. “They assume it’s education.”
But in fact, education doesn’t even crack the top five issues that Asian voters are prioritizing this year, according to the poll. Inflation was a top priority for 31% of those surveyed, followed by immigration for 29%, the environment for 25%, the economy broadly for 24% and health care reform for 23%.
Asian voters do care about education, but no more than the average American voter, Wong said. Education and student debt came in sixth for Asian voters, with 19% listing it as a top priority, compared to 22% of U.S. adults in general.
“That assumption leads many candidates and campaigns to overlook other priorities that Asian Americans have,” she said.
Asian American voters are expected to make up 6.1% of the 2024 electorate, according to the Pew Research Center. In 2020, 72% of Asian voters said they voted for Joe Biden, versus 28% for Donald Trump.
Some of the priorities that separate Asian voters from the rest of the electorate this cycle are their views on health care and the environment, on which they’re more progressive, Wong said. She thinks candidates need to be prepared to speak to those points in order to bring in support from the community.
“This particular set of findings shows how critical it is for people to pay attention … and not just rely on stereotypes to understand what we care about,” she said.
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