Ted Simons: Asians are the fastest growing group in the country, and in the last election Asian Americans went for President Barack Obama at a higher percentage than the more scrutinized Latino vote. Here to discuss the impact of Asian Americans and Arizona and American politics, is Wei Lee, a professor of Asian American Pacific studies. Thanks for joining us.
Wei Li: Thank you for having me.
Ted Simons: Surprised the Asian vote went so much for President Barack Obama?
Wei Li: No, because there is a national study shows in the past elections Asian Americans are increasingly voting for democratic candidates.
Ted Simons: Is that because they consider themselves more liberal than conservatives or is it because of the candidates?
Wei Li: It's more about the candidate. Because as Asians, we all know Asian Americans are a diverse group. Different people having, leaning towards the left or the right. So, it's more about how a candidate can relate and what platform a candidate has. And not just leaning towards one way or the other.
Ted Simons: We have charts here and the first one shows partisan leanings among voters, and 51%, a nonpartisan and look at those numbers going for the President.
Wei Li: Yes, exactly, and as we all know, Asian Americans have 73% vote for President Barack Obama this time. And there was -- there was 43% they were going to vote for President Barack Obama, but clearly, a lot of them make their decision last-minute.
Ted Simons: And some of the issues at the bottom of the chart now, we have some issues to look at, as well. And again, so many of those, now, is that a surprise to you to see these kinds of issues falling so heavily towards the President?
Wei Li: No, because when we see the chart, quite clearly, Democrats leaning, Asian Americans, are having some other concerns as other democratic leaning voters, versus Republican leaning voters, have similar issues as other Americans so that's a similar case with the national.
Ted Simons: So, what are Democrats doing right and what can Republicans do to change that?
Wei Li: I would first say if we are talking about Asian American voting, voting in general, right, I am glad that we have a good timing because today's Arizona Republic has an article about Latino votes, so, it seems to me that both parties, as well as media are, are increasingly interested in minority votes, and what they are thinking about, so the issue more is about, about how we practice democracy, right, instead of just quoting per se because if we are talking about democracy, we should encourage immigrants to become natural citizens and encourage all citizens to exercise their vote. And then respect whatever they are concerned about, whatever -- whoever they want to vote for. But, if a party, a particular democrat or a Republican or an independent or whatever party, I think that they should really try to understand what people are thinking and what they are, their needs are, instead of thinking more about how should we court more minority votes?
Ted Simons: But you know politics, and politics is the art of courting that by addressing needs, and if you were speaking in front of a group of Republicans, what would you tell them?
Wei Li: That's a good question. I never thought about that because I'm a professor and doing research.
Ted Simons: As far as what the research tells you, what would you tell them?
Wei Li: I would say clear, think about what people are caring about, what their issues are and what they really want the parties to do for them. For instance, like I gave you a, a, an example, that was in California, and data, they said the last election, about 82% of Asian-Americans in California voted for President Barack Obama. Listed the immigration theme a very important issue, and also, there was an informal survey among some ASU, Asian American and native Hawaiian, Pacific islander students, faculty, some of them clearly said that they could relate with Obama better than, than Romney. So, these are the issues people do care. They think about what is related to their daily life, and also, in addition to their leaning towards right or left or right.
Ted Simons: Let's look at the other chart here regarding the number of Asian Americans in Arizona. And I found this was interesting in the sense that, that Filipinos in terms of total, number one, and I think that that would surprise some folks. It also shows that Asian Indians grew the fastest in the 2000, and yet, explain to me why so much growth with Asian Indians and yet so little in the way of naturalization, and yet, the Vietnamese. Look at the naturalization, what's going on there?
Wei Li: That's, actually, very interesting issue to look at. If we look at data because these are the U.S. Canadians data. Clearly, both, both Filipino and Asian Indians, more than doubled their number in the State of Arizona. Actually, to me, somewhat surprised about the Latino increase.
Ted Simons: Yes.
Wei Li: But for the Asian indian like we discussed two years ago, more about the High-tech industry, and they were very highly educated and hired by a lot of big companies. Doing High-tech industry, so, if we look at those, those different columns, clearly, they have very, very, they have five major Asian American groups, have very fast growth rate. And a majority of them were all groups, more than two-thirds of them were foreign born, meaning they are immigrants in this country and, and the highest being 8%, lowest being Chinese and 7%, and look at the second to the last column, how many of the percent them are, actually, emigrated in the last decade alone, right? 54% of Asian Indians, emigrated just last ten years, from 2010 to, up from 2000 to 2010, so it takes five years to apply to become that.
Ted Simons: There you go.
Wei Li: It takes much longer, that's why it's the lowest.
Ted Simons: Right, and Vietnamese, who had, had the lowest amount in terms of the immigration is because they were here the longest, and they wound up having the time to go -- ok. With those numbers, there is so many numbers to look at and you talked about, about leaning left or right, and mostly of a candidate, what do we take from all of this? What do we take from this increasing impact and the increasing numbers and information of the Asian American vote? What are we learning here?
Wei Li: I think that most important is to, again, encourage lprs, legal permanent resident to become a U.S. citizen so that encourages them to access their right to vote. So, I think that one other thing is, is Asian American groups are so diverse, we heard about this mass saying that they are all a minority, which is not the case, as we, we can see the next chart, which shows that they are, they are, there is a variation in education, so, different people have, have different groups have different education levels so they have different issues. They have to deal with. So, I think that, that the political party really needs to learn from these people what they are thinking about, and what their issues.
Ted Simons: And before we go, it is interesting from your research, Indians and Koreans tend to lean democrat, Filipinos and Vietnamese tend to lean Republicans. Isn't that something?
Wei Li: That's a national data. That's national data, not Arizona. Unfortunately.
Ted Simons: Ok.
Wei Li: We don't have local data to really prove that these are mixed with the national data.
Ted Simons: All right. And very good information and good to have you here. Thanks for joining us. We appreciate it.
Wei Li: Thank you, thank you. Thank you very much.
Much has been said about the Hispanic vote this past presidential election, but Asians voted for the president at an even higher rate. Find out more about the Asian vote with Arizona State University Asian American Pacific Studies Professor Wei Li.