Not long ago, the Republican National Committee did something out of the ordinary: The party issued a formal statement marking Diwali, an important Hindu holiday.
Diwali and the lighting of the Diya celebrate the victory of light over darkness and knowledge over ignorance," read the salutation from GOP headquarters in Washington, which bid good tidings to "our Hindu, Jain and Sikh friends" and ended with the traditional greeting "Saal Mubarak!"
It was a small step toward addressing a big concern.
After years of divided loyalties, Asian American voters have swung heavily behind the Democratic Party and its candidates, posing a serious threat to Republicans whose political base — older, whiter, more conservative — is shrinking by the day. (Although referred to as the Asian American community, "communities" might be a better word to reflect the diversity of groups tracing their roots from the Indian subcontinent to the Far East.)
The problem is every bit as acute as the GOP's widely chronicled difficulties with Latino voters. Though fewer in number, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. population and a rapidly expanding part of the electorate, nationally and in battleground states such as Florida, Nevada, North Carolina and Virginia.
In 1992, Republican George H.W. Bush won 55% of the Asian American vote against Democrat Bill Clinton. Last year, President Obama won 73% against Republican Mitt Romney, a better showing than the president's 71% support among Latinos, according to exit polls.