Poll: Over 82% of South Asian Voters Chose Democrats in 2013

Friday, Dec 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, South Asian American voters voted for Democrat candidates in staggeringly high numbers. In New York, 91% of South Asian American voters favored Democrat Bill de Blasio for mayor, compared to 79% of Asian Americans overall. In the close race for governor in Virginia, 85% of South Asian American voters favored Democrat Terry McAuliffe, compared to 71% of Asian Americans overall. 

In total, 82% of South Asian American voters voted for Democrat candidates across all three states.  69% of South Asian Americans were enrolled in the Democratic Party, 7% were enrolled in the Republican Party, and 23% were not enrolled in any party. Notably, among Bangladeshi Americans, 86% were enrolled in the Democratic Party. More than one in ten (12%) of South Asian American voters polled were first-time voters. 

"The high numbers of first-time South Asian American voters show that the community is increasingly coming to the polls and voting for Democrat candidates at astoundingly high rates," said Glenn D. Magpantay, Director of AALDEF's Democracy Program. "In New York, South Asian American voters supported Bill De Blasio at rates comparable to African American voters (95%). The South Asian American community should be recognized as a political force." 

AALDEF conducted a nonpartisan multilingual exit poll of 487 South Asian Americans at 24 poll sites after the mayoral election in New York and the gubernatorial elections in New Jersey and Virginia. 

"As the South Asian community continues to grow in New York City, jobs and the economy continue to be the primary issues of concern, which is not surprising as so many are working in the service industries and are self-employed," said Seema Agnani, Executive Director of Chhaya CDC. "These workers are often the last to feel the effects of economic growth even though much of their work is what drives this City's resilient economy. As our City continues toward recovery, we will be looking to the new administration to ensure everyone is uplifted and benefits from new investments and strategies."

The exit poll further indicated that 71% of South Asian Americans supported immigration reform, including a path to citizenship. Moreover, 56% of South Asian American voters polled said they would be more likely to vote for a candidate for Congress who supported comprehensive immigration reform, with a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

"Given that South Asians are among the most rapidly growing ethnic groups in the United States, it is not surprising to see so many first-time voters becoming engaged with the political process during the most recent election," said Deepa Iyer, Executive Director of South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT). "South Asian voters are also becoming increasingly vocal about the need for immigration reform, one of the most pressing issues affecting Asian immigrants today. The results from AALDEF's exit poll further emphasize the role of South Asians as an important voting bloc, and reinforce the issues they care about and want their elected leaders to address."

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

RESULTS

The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) released results of its nonpartisan multilingual exit poll of 487 South Asian American voters in New York, New Jersey, and Virginia.  Of the487 respondents, 237 were Asian Indian (49%), 211 were Bangladeshi (43%), and 39 were Pakistani (8%). 131 South Asian American voters were polled in Virginia, 63 in New Jersey, and 293 in New York. 

Of Asian Indian Americans, 52% were enrolled in the Democratic Party, 38% were not enrolled in any party, and 7% were enrolled in the Republican Party. Of Bangladeshi Americans, 86% were enrolled in the Democratic Party, 7% were not enrolled in any party, and 6% were enrolled in the Republican Party.  

More than one in ten (12%) of South Asian voters polled were first-time voters. 

Below is a summary of the key findings:

NEW YORK

In the race for New York City Mayor, 91% of South Asian American voters favored Democrat Bill de Blasio, over Republican Joe Lhota (6%).    

South Asian Americans in New York cited Economy/Jobs as the most important issue influencing their votes.  For South Asian Americans who voted for de Blasio, Economy/Jobs was the dominant issue (28%), followed by Education (20%), Health Care (19%), Crime/Public Safety (16%), Housing (8%), Ethnic/Race Relations (5%), and Terrorism/Security (4%). 

The majority of South Asian Americans in New York are registered as Democrats.

83% of South Asian Americans surveyed were enrolled in the Democratic Party, 8% indicated that they were not enrolled in any party, and 8% were enrolled in the Republican Party.  

VIRGINIA

In the race for Governor, 85% of South Asian American voters favored Democrat Terry McAuliffe, over Republican Ken Cuccinelli (11%).

South Asian Americans in Virginia cited Economy/Jobs as the most important issue influencing their votes. 

The majority of South Asian Americans in Virginia were registered as Democrats.

49% of South Asian Americans surveyed were enrolled in the Democratic Party, 45% indicated that they were not enrolled in any party, and 3% were enrolled in the Republican Party. 

IMMIGRATION REFORM

A majority of South Asian American voters favored comprehensive immigration reform. 

71% of South Asian Americans supported immigration reform, including a path to citizenship. 78% are in support of immigration in New York, 65% are in support of immigration reform in New Jersey, and 57% are in support of immigration reform in Virginia.  

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

56% of South Asian American voters polled said they would be more likely to vote for a candidate for Congress who supported comprehensive immigration reform, with a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. 12% said they would be less likely, and 32% responded that it made no difference. 

-- NY - 64% were more likely, 7% less likely; and 29% said it made no difference.  Amongst de Blasio voters, 67% were more likely, 5% less likely, and 28% said it made no difference. 

-- VA - 46% were more likely, 18% less likely, and 36% said it made no difference.  

ACCESS TO THE VOTE

South Asian Americans were limited English proficient and needed language assistance to vote

24% of South Asian Americans polled read English less than "very well," with 34% of Bangladeshi Americans reading English less than "very well." Language assistance is needed to ensure South Asian Americans can fully exercise their right to vote.  

Under the Voting Rights Act, poll sites in Queens, New York are mandated to provide bilingual ballots and interpreters to assist Bengali-speaking voters. 13% percent of South Asian American respondents preferred to use some form of language assistance to vote. 

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
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 

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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.