New Findings Show South Asian Voters Among Strongest Supporters of Democrats

Monday, Apr 22, 2013

4.22.13 Glenn SAALT Summitt.jpgThe Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) released detailed findings from its nonpartisan multilingual exit poll of 2,165 South Asian American voters in the November 2012 elections, the largest survey of its kind in the nation. The results indicated that South Asian Americans showed strong support for comprehensive immigration reform and the Democratic Party candidates for President and Congress.

"Among Asian Americans, South Asian American voters showed the strongest support for President Obama as well as the highest enrollment in the Democratic party," said Glenn D. Magpantay, Director of AALDEF's Democracy Program. "Overwhelming support for immigration reform was a contributing factor to the strong Democratic turnout in 2012."

South Asian American voters showed among the strongest support for President Obama, with 96% of Bangladeshi, 91% of Pakistani, and 84% of Asian Indian American voters surveyed voting for President Obama, compared to 77% of Asian Americans surveyed nationally. Enrollment in the Democratic Party was also higher across South Asian ethnicities. 84% of Indo-Caribbean, 79% of Bangladeshi, 73% of Pakistani, and 65% of Asian Indian American voters were enrolled in the Democratic Party, compared to 57% of all Asian Americans surveyed nationally.

The majority of South Asian Americans supported immigration reform, including a path to citizenship, with the highest support among Bangladeshi (78%), Pakistani (78%), Indo-Caribbean (77%), and Asian Indian (64%) American voters.

AALDEF, a 39-year old New York-based national organization, conducted the surveys as part of a 14-state multilingual exit poll of 9,096 Asian American voters. The largest South Asian ethnic groups in the exit poll were Asian Indian (45%), Bangladeshi (40%), Pakistani (10%), and Indo-Caribbean (5%).

Glenn Magpantay presented the results of the 2012 multilingual exit poll at the National South Asian Summit, hosted by South Asian Americans Leading Together and the South Asian Law Students Association at American University Washington College of Law. View the presentation >

Key findings include the following:

  • South Asian Americans are a growing portion of the electorate.

In the 2012 elections, 45% of Bangladeshi, 35% of Pakistani, 29% of Asian Indian, and 28% of Indo-Caribbean American voters voted for the first time, compared to 27% of all Asian Americans.

  • A majority of South Asian Americans favored comprehensive immigration reform.

The majority of South Asian Americans supported immigration reform, including a path to citizenship, with the highest support among Bangladeshi (78%), Pakistani (78%), Indo-Caribbean (77%), and Asian Indian (64%) American voters.

  • The majority of South Asian Americans were enrolled as Democrats.

Enrollment in the Democratic Party was higher among South Asian ethnicities. 84% of Indo-Caribbean, 79% of Bangladeshi, 73% of Pakistani, and 65% of Asian Indian voters were enrolled in the Democratic Party. Nationally, 57% of all Asian Americans surveyed indicated that they were enrolled in the Democratic Party. 

In comparison, 9% of Asian Indian, 5% of Pakistani, 4% of Indo-Caribbean, and 2% of Bangladeshi Americans were enrolled in the Republican Party, compared to 14% of all Asian Americans.

24% of Asian Indian, 21% of Pakistani, 18% of Bangladeshi, and 8% of Indo-Caribbean American voters indicated that they were not enrolled in any party.

  • The majority of South Asian Americans voted for the Democratic candidate for President and Congress.

South Asian American voters showed the strongest support for President Obama, with 96% of Bangladeshi, 91% of Pakistani, and 84% of Asian Indian voters surveyed voting for Obama. Of Asian Americans surveyed nationally, 77% voted for President Obama. 

Support for Obama was also high among all South Asian Americans voting for the first time and in all states surveyed.

The major factors influencing the South Asian American vote for President were: Economy/jobs (57% of Asian Indian, 48% of Bangladeshi, 52% of Indo-Caribbean, and 49% of Pakistani American voters); Health care (39% of Asian Indian, 40% of Bangladeshi, 50% of Indo-Caribbean, and 39% of Pakistani American voters); Education (35% of Asian Indian, 30% of Bangladeshi, 45% of Indo-Caribbean, and 34% of Pakistani American voters), and Civil rights / immigrant rights (23% of Asian Indian, 42% of Bangladeshi, 20% of Indo-Caribbean, and 32% of Pakistani American voters).

  • South Asian Americans require language access.

Some South Asian American ethnic subgroups had higher rates of limited English proficiency compared to the 37% of Asian Americans nationally:  46% of Bangladeshi American voters were limited English proficient.

  • Voting barriers persisted.

Voters were asked if they encountered any voting problems:

66 voters were required to prove their U.S. citizenship.
80 voters reported that their names were missing or had errors in the list of voters at poll sites.
67 voters had to vote by provisional ballot.
22 voters reported that poll workers were uninformed.
16 voters reported that poll workers were rude or hostile.
33 voters reported that no interpreters or translations were available when needed.
23 voters were directed to the wrong poll site or voting machine/table within a site.

About the 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. In 2012, more than 100 community groups and organizations joined AALDEF to mobilize over 800 attorneys, law students, and volunteers to conduct the exit poll and to safeguard the voting rights of Asian Americans. A list of co-sponsoring organizations and law firms follows below. 

About AALDEF:

The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), founded in 1974, is a national organization that protects and promotes the civil rights of Asian Americans.  By combining litigation, advocacy, education, and organizing, AALDEF works with Asian American communities across the country to secure human rights for all.

Contact:
Ujala Sehgal
212.966.5932 x.217
usehgal@aaldef.org

2012 AALDEF ASIAN AMERICAN EXIT POLL - Co-Sponsoring Organizations and Law Firms

National Co-Sponsors

Alliance of South Asian American Labor
Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance
APIAVote
Common Cause
Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
National Asian Pacific American Bar Association
Nat'l Coalition of Asian Pac. Amer. Comm. Dev.
Nat'l Korean Amer. Service & Education Consortium
National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance
North American South Asian Bar Association
OCA (formerly Organization of Chinese Americans)
South Asian Americans Leading Together

Local Co-Sponsors

ACCESS - MI
APALA - Nevada
APIA Vote - Michigan
Asian American Society of Central Virginia
Boat People SOS Delaware Valley - PA
CAAAV - NY
Cambodian Association of Greater Philadelphia
Center for Pan Asian Community Services - GA
Chhaya CDC - NY
Chinese-American Planning Council - NY
Chinese Community Federation of Atlanta
Chinese Progressive Association - MA
Coalition of Asian Pacific Americans of Virginia
East Coast Asian American Student Union
Gay Asian and Pacific Islander Men of New York
Hunter College/CUNY, Asian Am. Studies Prog - NY
Korean American Civic Empowerment of NY/NJ
Korean American Resource and Cultural Center - IL
MinKwon Center for Community Action - NY
NAAAP - New York
NAAAP - Philadelphia
NANAY - FL                         
NAPAWF - DC
NAPAWF - New York City
OCA: Georgia
OCA: Greater Houston
OCA: Greater Philadelphia
OCA: Greater Washington DC
OCA: Northern Virginia
OCA: South Florida
Pace University, ACE House - NY
Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition
Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation
Princeton Asian American Students Association - NJ
Q-WAVE - NY
South Asian Lesbian & Gay Association of New York
U. California San Diego, Lambda Phi Epsilon
U. Maryland, College Park, Asian Amer. Studies Prog.
U. Massachusetts Boston, Asian Amer. Studies Prog.
Viet. Amer. Young Leaders Assoc. of New Orleans

Legal Co-Sponsors

Asian American Bar Association of Houston
Asian American Bar Association of New York
Asian American Lawyers Assoc. of Massachusetts
Asian American Legal Advocacy Center of Georgia
Asian Bar Association of Las Vegas - NV
Asian Pacific American Bar Assoc. of Wash., DC
Asian Pacific American Bar Assoc. of Pennsylvania
Asian Pacific American Bar Assoc. of South Florida
Asian Pacific American Lawyers Association of NJ   
Asian Pacific American Legal Resource Center - DC
Boston University School of Law, APALSA - MA
Brooklyn Law School, APALSA - NY
Columbia Law School, APALSA - NY
Filipino Amer. Legal Defense & Educ. Fund, Inc. - NY
Georgetown Law, APALSA - DC
Georgia Asian Pacific American Bar Association
Greater Boston Legal Services: Asian Outreach Unit
Harvard Law School, APALSA - MA
Korean Amer. Bar Assoc. of the Washington DC Area
Korean American Lawyers Association of Greater NY
Louisiana Asian Pacific American Bar Association
Muslim American Bar Association of New York
New England School of Law, APALSA - MA
Pace Law School, Public Interest Law Center - NY
Rutgers School of Law-Newark, APALSA - NJ
South Asian Bar Association of New York
South Asian Bar Association of Washington, DC
Suffolk U. Law Rappaport Ctr. Law and Public Serv.
University of Nevada, Las Vegas, APALSA
U. Penn. Law, Public Interest Office and APALSA

Law Firm Co-Sponsors

Alston & Bird LLP
Ballard Spahr LLP
Crowell & Moring LLP
Debevoise & Plimpton LLP
Duane Morris LLP
Edwards Wildman Palmer LLP
Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, LLP
Fowler White Boggs
Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP
Hogan Lovells
K&L Gates LLP
Kaye Scholer LLP
Kelley Drye & Warren LLP
McCarter & English LLP
Morrison & Foerster LLP
Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP
Paul Hastings LLP
Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP
Pepper Hamilton LLP
Proskauer Rose LLP
Ropes & Gray LLP
Shearman & Sterling LLP
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP
Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP
Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP
White & Case LLP