New AALDEF poll: 2,538 Asian American voters in 2017 elections; 59% disapprove of Trump's job performance

Monday, Dec 4, 2017

According to a nonpartisan exit poll of 2,538 Asian American voters in the 2017 elections, Asian Americans strongly supported Democratic candidates in four states--Virginia, New Jersey, Massachusetts and New York--with 3 out of 5 voters disapproving of Donald Trump's performance as president. The multilingual exit poll was conducted by the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), a New York-based national organization that has surveyed Asian American voters since 1988.

"Asian American voters, many of whom are not enrolled in any political party, could be a decisive voting bloc in the 2018 midterm elections," said AALDEF executive director Margaret Fung.

AALDEF conducted the exit poll at 33 poll sites in the gubernatorial elections in New Jersey and Virginia and the mayoral elections in Boston and New York City. Of those surveyed, 66% were Democrats, 10% were Republicans, and 21% were not enrolled in any party.

In the race for governor in Virginia, 26% of Asian American voters said that they were not affiliated with any party. 45% four years ago, 58% were affiliated with the Democratic Party - a 13% increase from our exit poll four years ago. 15% were affiliated with the Republican Party.

In New Jersey, an overwhelming majority (72%) of Asian American voters favored Democrat Phil Murphy over Republican Kim Guadagno (21%). 60% polled were enrolled as Democrats, 23% said they were not enrolled in any party, and 12% were enrolled as Republicans.

Asian American voters in these four states voiced their opinions on several current topics:

* Donald Trump Job Approval: 59% Disapprove, 22% Approve and 19% Don't Know

* Repeal of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare):51% Oppose Repeal, 29% Support Repeal,    20% Don't Know

* Continuing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA): 64% Support, 18% Oppose, 18%     Don't Know

* State of Race Relations in the U.S.: 53% Bad, 47% Good (Massachusetts not included)

"There is tremendous political diversity within the Asian American community," said Jerry Vattamala, Director of AALDEF's Democracy Program. "Traditionally, issues and candidates have driven the Asian American vote. However, many Asian Americans increasingly are registering as Democrats and supporting the party's policies on such issues as health care and immigration."

2017 ASIAN AMERICAN EXIT POLL RESULTS

AALDEF conducted the exit poll of 2,538 Asian American voters at 33 poll sites in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Virginia in English and ten Asian languages: Bengali, Chinese,  Gujarati, Hindi, Khmer, Korean, Punjabi, Tagalog, Urdu, and Vietnamese. AALDEF also dispatched nearly 300 attorneys, law students, and community volunteers to 67 poll sites to monitor the voting process. The largest Asian ethnic groups polled were Chinese (45%), Korean (13%), Bangladeshi (11%), Asian Indian (7%) and Filipino (6%). Nearly one in ten (9%) of those polled were first-time voters, and 78% were foreign-born naturalized citizens.

Below is a summary of AALDEF's exit poll results:

NEW YORK
In the race for New York City Mayor, 69% of Asian American voters favored Democrat Bill de Blasio over Republican Nicole Malliotakis  (23%).
Each Asian ethnic group -- 57% of Chinese Americans, 82% of Korean Americans, 81% of Asian Indian Americans, and 95% of Bangladeshi Americans -- voted for Democrat Bill de Blasio. 

Asian Americans cited Education as the most important issue influencing their votes.
Education was the dominant issue for 42% of Asian American voters, followed by Health Care (36%), Economy/Jobs (35%), Immigration/Refugees (30%) and Housing (26%).

The majority of Asian American New Yorkers are registered as Democrats.
70% of Asian Americans polled said they were enrolled in the Democratic Party, 18% were not enrolled in any party, and 9% were enrolled in the Republican Party.

Crossover voting was strong.
14% of registered Republicans crossed party lines to vote for de Blasio, while 13% of registered Democrats voted for Malliotakis.

The majority of Asian American voters in New York are foreign-born.
76% of Asian American voters polled were foreign-born.

Four out of ten Asian American voters in New York are limited English proficient (LEP). 
43% of Asian Americans who voted in New York City were LEP.

NEW JERSEY
In the race for Governor, 72% of Asian American voters favored Democrat Phil Murphy over Republican Kim Guadagno (21%).    
78% percent of Asian Indian Americans, 71% of Filipino Americans, and 55% of Korean Americans voted for Murphy.

Asian Americans cited Education as the most important issue influencing their votes.
Education was the dominant issue for 48% of Asian American voters, followed by Economy/Jobs (40%), Taxes (39%), Health Care (34%), Immigration/Refugees (23%), Environment (19%), and Housing (12%).

A majority of Asian Americans are registered in the Democratic Party. 
Of those surveyed, 60% were registered as Democrats, 23% said they were not enrolled in any party, and 12% were registered as Republicans.

Crossover voting was stronger for the Democratic candidate. 
12% of registered Republicans crossed party lines to vote for Murphy. 7% of registered Democrats voted for Guadagno. 

The majority of Asian American voters in New Jersey are foreign-born.
85% of Asian American voters polled were foreign-born.

Two out of ten Asian American voters in New Jersey are LEP. 
20% of Asian Americans who voted in New Jersey were LEP, well below other states.

VIRGINIA
In the race for Governor, each Asian ethnic group voted for Democrat Ralph Northam by wide margins.
83% of Asian American voters favored Democrat Ralph Northam compared to 17% favoring Republican Ed Gillespie.

Asian Americans cited Health Care as the most important issue influencing their votes.
Health Care was the dominant issue for 53% of Asian American voters, followed by Education (43%), Immigration/Refugees (40%), Economy/Jobs (28%), Environment (20%), Taxes (19%), Women's Issues (16%), and Housing (7%).   

The largest proportion of Asian American voters polled said they were enrolled in the Democratic Party.
58% said that they were enrolled in the Democratic Party, 26% were not enrolled in any political party, and 15% were enrolled in the Republican Party.

The majority of Asian American voters in Virginia are foreign-born.
82% of Asian American voters polled in Virginia were foreign-born.

Three out of ten Asian American voters in Virginia are LEP. 
32% of Asian Americans who voted in Virginia were LEP.

MASSACHUSETTS
In the race for Mayor, 89% of Asian American voters favored Democrat Martin Walsh compared to 11% favoring Republican Tito Jackson.
Each Asian ethnic group -- 93% of Chinese Americans, 87% of Vietnamese Americans, and 83% of Asian Indian Americans -- voted for Walsh by wide margins. 

Asian Americans cited Education as the most important issue influencing their votes.
Education was the dominant issue for 33% of Asian American voters, followed by Economy/Jobs (31%), Housing (30%), Health Care (24%), Immigration/Refugees (20%), Environment (10%), Taxes (5%), and Criminal Justice (5%).   

The largest proportion of Asian American voters were not enrolled in any political party.
51% indicated that they were not enrolled in any political party, 34% were enrolled in the Democratic Party, and 12% were enrolled in the Republican Party.

The majority of Asian American voters in Massachusetts are foreign-born.
77% of Asian American voters polled in Massachusetts were foreign-born.

Nearly six out of ten Asian American voters in Massachusetts are LEP. 
58% of Asian Americans who voted in Massachusetts were LEP.

ISSUES
Support for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)
In September 2017, President Trump announced he would end the DACA program, which provided undocumented immigrant youth with work authorization and relief from deportation. In our exit poll, 64% of Asian Americans supported DACA, with 64% in New York, 63% in New Jersey, 59% in Massachusetts, and 72% in Virginia supporting continuation of this  program.

Trump Job Approval Ratings
22% of Asian Americans approve of the job Donald Trump is doing as President. Foreign-born and LEP voters expressed much more support for Trump than native-born and English proficient voters.  Among foreign-born voters, 25% approved of Trump's job performance as president, compared to 10% of native-born Asian American voters.  51% of foreign-born voters disapproved of Trump job performance, as compared to 87% of native-born voters. 

With respect to LEP voters, 32% approved of Trump's job performance, as compared to 15% of English proficient voters.  38% of LEP voters disapproved of Trump's job performance, compared to 74% of English proficient voters.

ACCESS TO THE VOTE
41% of all Asian Americans polled read English less than "very well."
Across all ethnic groups, limited English proficiency was high. 41% of all Asian Americans polled read English less than "very well." It is evident that language assistance is still needed to ensure Asian Americans can fully exercise their right to vote. 

Under the Voting Rights Act, poll sites in Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Virginia are mandated to provide bilingual ballots and interpreters to voters who speak Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Khmer, and Gujarati, and Bengali. Some counties in Virginia voluntarily provided Korean interpreters at certain poll sites. 26% percent of all respondents preferred to use some form of language assistance to vote.

Asian American voters also faced a number of barriers in exercising their right to vote. 
The following voting problems in the 2017 elections were reported to AALDEF:

* Elderly LEP voters in Boston's Chinatown complained that their absentee ballots were completed by persons other than themselves. These voters requested that their absentee ballots be invalidated, and that they be allowed to vote in person on Election Day. The City of Boston translates Election Day ballots into Chinese and Vietnamese, but does not translate absentee ballots. 

* Voters in New York City were not informed of poll site changes.

* In Virginia, voters received text messages instructing them to go to incorrect poll sites.

* Asian American candidates in Edison and Hoboken, New Jersey were targets of anonymous racist and anti-immigrant flyers. 

* Interpreter shortages at several polling places made voting difficult for limited English proficient voters.

* Voters reported encounters with hostile poll workers, excessive demands for identification, broken voting machines, and misdirection by poll workers.

AALDEF reported all of these voter problems to the appropriate state and local elections officials.

About the Asian American Exit Poll:
AALDEF's multilingual exit polls reveal vital information about Asian American voting patterns that is often overlooked in mainstream voter surveys.  AALDEF has conducted exit polls of Asian American voters in every major election since 1988, noting the steadily increasing numbers of new citizen and first-time voters.  In the 2016 Presidential Election, AALDEF surveyed 13,846 Asian American voters in 55 cities across 14 states. 

A list of co-sponsoring organizations and law firms appears below:

National
Alliance of South Asian American Labor (ASAAL) * APIAVote * East Coast Asian American Student Union (ECAASU) * National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) * National Asian Pacific American Law Student Association (NAPALSA) * National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum (NAPAWF) * National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA) * National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA) * National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA) * OCA - Asian Pacific American Advocates * South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT)

Local
Adhikaar * Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY) * Asian American Lawyers Association of Massachusetts (AALAM) * Asian Employee Network at American Express (ANA - New York) * Asian Outreach Project of Greater Boston Legal Services * Asian Pacific American Lawyers Association of NJ (APALA-NJ) * Charles B. Wang Community Health Center (CBWCHC) * Chhaya CDC * Gay Asian Pacific Islander Men of New York (GAPIMNY) * Korean American Bar Association of New Jersey (KABA-NJ) * Korean American Lawyers Association of Greater New York (KALAGNY) * MinKwon Center for Community Action * Muslim Bar Association of New York (MuBANY) * National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum NYC Chapter (NAPAWF*NYC) * Pilipino American Unity for Progress NY (UniPro NY) * South Asian Bar Association of New York (SABANY) * South Asian Bar Association of Washington DC (SABA-DC) * South Asian Fund for Education Scholarship Training (SAFEST)

Schools
Asian/American Center, Queens College * Brooklyn Law APALSA * Columbia APALSA * Columbia Asian American Alliance * Columbia School of Social Work Asian Pacific Islander Student Caucus (CSSW API Caucus) * Fordham APALSA * George Mason APALSA * Georgetown Korean American Law Students Association (KALSA) * Harvard APALSA * Harvard Kennedy School Asian Pacific American Caucus * Hofstra APALSA * Hunter Asian American Studies Program * NYU APALSA * Princeton Asian American Students Association (AASA) * Rutgers Law School-Newark APALSA * St. John's APALSA

Firms
Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP * Crowell & Moring LLP * Dechert LLP * Epstein Becker & Green, P.C. * Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP * Shearman & Sterling LLP * Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP
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For more information, contact:
Jerry Vattamala, Democracy Program Director
212.966.5932 x.209
jvattamala@aaldef.org


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