May 31, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Asian American support for Democrats drops over generations

Share of Asian American adults who identify with select political parties
Note: The largest six ethnic groups shown above include those who identify with one Asian ethnicity only. Japanese registered voters are not included due to an insufficient sample size. “Other” represents those who self-identify with Asian ethnic origin groups not among the largest groups. Data: Pew Research; Chart: Tory Lysik/Axios Visuals

Asian American voters tend to lean away from the Democratic Party as their roots in the U.S. deepen, according to data from a Pew Research Center study published this month.

Why it matters: The latest findings show that ballots from the fastest-growing racial or ethnic segment of the population could be up for grabs in future elections — not unlike Latino voters.

By the numbers: Overall, 62% of Asian American registered voters identify with or lean toward Democrats, versus 34% who identify with or lean Republican, according to Pew's new multi-month, multi-lingual study.

  • But among foreign-born Asian Americans, 39% overall tilt right.
  • And for foreign-born Asian Americans who have lived in the U.S. for more than 20 years specifically, Republican support grows to 42% — up from 32% of those who have spent 11 to 20 years in the country.
  • When looking at U.S.-born Asian voters, there's a similar trend: 25% in this segment lean right overall — but for third-generation or higher Asian Americans, the share increases to 40%.

Between the lines: The Pew study shows when Asian American political preferences start moving closer to national splits.

  • Of all U.S. registered voters, 47% identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party versus 48% for the Republican Party.

What they're saying: "Place of birth shapes Asian American identities ... and Asian American life in America," Neil Ruiz, head of new research initiatives at Pew, told reporters on a call.

The intrigue: Most Americans of Asian heritage (68%) say it's extremely or very important for Asian Americans to have a national leader representing their concerns.

  • But selecting the right person may prove difficult considering how varied political viewpoints are within the community.

Zoom in: Filipino (68%), Indian (68%) and Korean (67%) American registered voters are more likely to identify with or lean left.

  • Democratic Party preference drops to 56% among Chinese American registered voters and 42% among Vietnamese American registered voters.

The big picture: Despite being hyper-in-tune with all the cultural differences among them, most Americans of Asian descent say they believe that what happens to Asian people in the U.S. affects what happens in their own lives, according to the report.

  • However, similar to the shift in political views over time, feelings of shared fates diminish among third- and higher-generation Asian adults.

What to watch: How much discrimination and rhetoric people of Asian descent face might influence political views.

  • Separate research has shown how the usage of anti-Asian terms spiked after former President Donald Trump and other conservatives began using them publicly at the onset of the pandemic.
  • Anti-China rhetoric in upcoming elections may also be weaponized against Asian Americans.

Of note: There are roughly 24 million Asian Americans in the U.S., about 7% of the population, and 68% of Asian American adults were born abroad, according to Pew's analysis of government data.

  • Pew's wide-ranging study of Asian Americans did not include Pacific Islanders.
  • Ruiz said more research needs to be conducted on Native Hawaiians since "America came to them," as opposed to Asian immigrants coming to the U.S.

Go deeper: Nearly 75% of Chinese Americans report discrimination in past year

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