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Divided We Stand

Divided We Stand
New book about the 2020 election.

Friday, May 21, 2021

Asian American Population and Turnout

Our new book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses the demographics of the 2020 election.

Ronald Brownstein at The Atlantic:

Asian Americans still represent a small sliver of the population in all but a few states. But census figures show that from 2010 to 2019, the group grew rapidly, increasing its population nationwide by nearly 30 percent, or just over 5 million people. In percentage terms, that was by far the biggest increase over the past decade for any major racial group. Among adult citizens eligible to vote, Asian Americans have doubled their share, from 2.5 percent in 2000 to 5 percent in 2020, according to calculations by William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program.
The Asian American population isn’t nearly large enough to decide those states on its own. Although Asian Americans represent almost 9 percent of eligible voters in Nevada, they represent only about 3 percent in Georgia, Arizona, and North Carolina, Frey shared with me. Yet the rise in voter participation has proved crucial for Democrats in several closely balanced states. A growing number of Asian American voters—mostly in the Washington, D.C., suburbs—were central to tilting Virginia blue over roughly the past 15 years. They played a comparable tipping-point role in Democrats’ victories in Georgia last year, at both the presidential and senatorial level. TargetSmart, a Democratic voter-targeting firm, calculates that some 60,000 more Asian Americans voted in the state in November than had in 2016—an increase that far exceeded Joe Biden’s narrow margin of victory there. “In Georgia, they delivered this election for Joe Biden,” [AAPI Victory Alliance Executive Director Varun] Nikore said. “And then they delivered Joe Biden the Senate.”

Nationwide, Asian Americans increased their turnout at an astounding pace last year—soaring from about 49 percent in 2016 to just over 59 percent, the census found. Although turnout rose substantially for every major racial and educational group in 2020, the increase among Asian Americans was significantly larger than the growth among college-educated white voters (just over three percentage points), Latinos (just over six points), and even Trump’s core supporters, white voters without a college degree (also a little more than six percentage points)....

Higher turnout from an expanding pool of eligible voters combined to produce a dramatic rise in votes from the Asian American community. In its recently released analysis of voter files nationwide, Catalist calculated that the total number of votes cast by Asian Americans grew from 2016 to 2020 by almost 40 percent, reaching about 7 million. TargetSmart, in its analysis, put the increase even higher, at about 47 percent.


The biggest problem for the GOP may be that Trump’s words stamped his party precisely at a moment when the clay was soft—in other words, when 2020 produced a huge influx of young and first-time Asian American voters without long attachments to either party, according to research from both[political scientist Karthick] Ramakrishnan and Catalist.