Poll: 75% of Korean Americans Want Immigration Reform

Friday, Dec 20, 2013

December 20, 2013 - According to the results of the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund's (AALDEF) exit poll in Virginia, New Jersey, and New York, 75% of Korean Americans polled support immigration reform, including a path to citizenship. Moreover, 63% of Korean American voters polled said they would be more likely to vote for a candidate for Congress who supported comprehensive immigration reform, compared to 52% of Asian Americans overall.

The exit poll also indicated that extremely high numbers of Korean American voters are independent. In Virginia, 46% of Korean American voters indicated that they were not enrolled in any party, compared to 38% enrolled in the Democratic Party and 13% enrolled in the Republican Party. New Jersey and New York both had a majority of registered Korean American Democrats, with 55% in New Jersey and 76% in New York. However, in the New Jersey gubernatorial elections, Korean American voters were evenly divided among candidates, with 49% voting for Republican Chris Christie and 49% voting for Democrat Barbara Buono.

"Immigration reform is a nonpartisan issue for Korean Americans," said Glenn D. Magpantay, Director of AALDEF's Democracy Program. "There is tremendous political diversity within the Korean American community, with extremely high numbers of independent voters. Nonetheless, immigration reform appears to be a unifying issue for the community."

AALDEF's nonpartisan multilingual exit poll of 2,290 Asian American voters was conducted at 24 poll sites after the mayoral election in New York and the gubernatorial elections in New Jersey and Virginia. 547 Korean American voters were polled in Virginia, New Jersey, and New York. 

"NAKASEC mailed in-language voter guidebooks to 10,000 households and witnessed a growing interest from the Korean American community," said Dae Joong Yoon, NAKASEC Executive Director at National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC). "The exit poll results clearly demonstrate our community's focus to elect lawmakers who favor sensible immigration policies and responsible fiscal policy for low-income community members."   

AALDEF's exit poll further indicated that language assistance remains essential to Korean American access to the vote, with 75% of all Korean Americans polled reading English less than "very well."

"Language continues to be a barrier for Korean Americans in accessing the ballot," said Grace Shim, Executive Director of MinKwon Center for Community Action. "Efforts such as AALDEF's exit survey are valuable tools not only in understanding our community's needs, but monitoring violations and protecting Asian American voters from discrimination in exercising their right to vote."

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

RESULTS

The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) today released results of its nonpartisan multilingual exit poll of 547 Korean American voters in New York, New Jersey, and Virginia. 161 Korean Americans were polled in Virginia, 138 were polled in New Jersey, and 248 were polled in New York. Only 4% of Korean American voters polled were first-time voters.

Below is a summary of the results:
 

NEW YORK

In the race for New York City Mayor, 85% of Korean American voters favored Democrat Bill de Blasio over Republican Joe Lhota (14%).    

Korean Americans in New York cited Economy/Jobs as the most important issue influencing their votes.  For Korean Americans who voted for de Blasio, Economy/Jobs was the dominant issue (32%), followed by Crime/Public Safety (15%), Healthcare (14%), Education (14%), Ethnic/Race Relations (9%), Housing (7%), and Terrorism/Security (2%).

The majority of Korean American New Yorkers are registered as Democrats.

76% of Korean Americans surveyed were enrolled in the Democratic Party, 13% indicated that they were not enrolled in any party, and 10% were enrolled in the Republican Party.

NEW JERSEY

In the race for Governor, Korean American voters were evenly divided where 49% voted for Republican Chris Christie and 49% voted for Democrat Barbara Buono.    

Korean Americans in New Jersey cited Economy/Jobs as the most important issue influencing their votes. 

The majority of Korean Americans in New Jersey are registered as Democrats.

55% of Korean Americans surveyed were enrolled in the Democratic Party, 33% indicated that they were not enrolled in any party, and 12% were enrolled in the Republican Party.

VIRGINIA

In the race for Governor, 68% of Korean American voters favored Democrat Terry McAuliffe compared to 30% of Korean American voters who favored Republican Ken Cuccinelli.

Korean Americans in Virginia cited Economy/Jobs as the most important issue influencing their votes.  For Korean Americans who voted for McAuliffe, Economy/Jobs was the dominant issue (30%), followed by Health Care (25%), Education (14%), Crime/Public Safety (10%), Ethnic/Race Relations (7%),  Housing (4%), and Terrorism/Security (3%).

The largest percentage of Korean American voters were not enrolled in any political party.
46% indicated that they were not enrolled in any party, 38% were enrolled in the Democratic Party, and 13% were enrolled in the Republican Party.

IMMIGRATION REFORM

75% of Korean American voters favored comprehensive immigration reform.

75% of Korean Americans supported immigration reform, including a path to citizenship, with 80% in support in New York, 71% in support in New Jersey, and 70% in support in Virginia. 

NY - 85% of Korean Americans who voted for de Blasio supported comprehensive immigration reform. VA - 90% of McAuliffe voters supported immigration reform.

A majority of Korean American voters favor congressional candidates who support comprehensive immigration reform.

63% of voters polled said they would be likely to vote for a candidate for Congress who supported comprehensive immigration reform, with a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. 12% said they were less likely, and 25% responded that it made no difference.

-- NY - 68% were more likely, 9% less likely; and 23% said no difference.  Amongst de Blasio voters, 75% were more likely, 6% were less likely, and 20% said that it would make no difference. 
-- NJ - 59% were more likely, 15% were less likely, and 26% said that it would make no difference. 
-- VA - 60% were more likely, 14% were less likely, and 26% said that it would make no difference. 

ACCESS TO THE VOTE

75% of Korean Americans were limited English proficient and needed language assistance to vote.

For Korean American voters, limited English proficiency was high. 75% of all Korean Americans polled read English less than "very well."

Under the Voting Rights Act, poll sites in New York and New Jersey are mandated to provide bilingual ballots and interpreters to assist Korean-, Chinese-, and Bengali-speaking voters.  Virginia voluntarily provided Korean interpreters at certain poll sites. 37% of Korean American respondents preferred to use some form of language assistance to vote.

Korean American voters also faced a number of barriers in exercising their right to vote. Interpreter shortages made voting difficult for limited English proficient voters. Voters reported of hostile poll workers, excessive demands for identification, broken voting machines, and misdirection by poll workers.

All of these voter problems were reported to the state and local elections officials on Election Day.

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, noting the steadily increasing numbers of new citizen and first-time voters.  In the 2012 Presidential Election, AALDEF surveyed 9,096 Asian American voters in 37 cities across 14 states.  A list of co-sponsoring organizations follows below. 

National Co-Sponsors:
Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA)
National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA)
National Korean American Service and Education Consortium (NAKASEC)
OCA: Asian Pacific American Advocates
South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT)

State/Local Co-Sponsors:
Alliance for South Asian American Labor (ASAAL)
Asian American Society of Central Virginia (AASOCVA)
Asian Pacific America Legal Resource Center (APALRC)
Chhaya CDC
Coalition of Asian Pacific American of Virginia (CAPAVA)
MinKwon Center for Community Action
National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum (NAPAWF) - DC and NY Chapters

Legal Co-Sponsors
Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY)
Asian Pacific American Bar Association of Greater DC (APABA-DC)
Asian Pacific American Lawyers Association of New Jersey (APALA-NJ)
Korean American Lawyers Association of Greater New York (KALAGNY)
Muslim Bar Association of New York (MuBANY)
National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA)
South Asian Bar Association of New York (SABANY)
South Asian Bar Association of Greater DC

#   #   #

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.