Wednesday, July 18, 2012 | 2 a.m.
Politicians who ignore the Asian-American and Pacific Islander vote do so at their own peril.
That was the message Tuesday from Asian-American community leaders during a teleconference in which they spoke about the results of a new nationwide survey of Asian-American voters.
Since 2008, 600,000 new Asian-Americans have entered the electorate, said Christine Chen, executive director of APIAVote, a nonpartisan organization seeking to increase civic participation among Asian-Americans. The number is only expected to grow; Asians make up the fastest-growing demographic group in America and are expected to vote in record numbers this fall, she added.
The telephone survey, conducted in April by Lake Research Partners, sampled 713 registered Asia-American and Pacific Islander voters from across the United States, as well as an oversample an additional 100 voters in Nevada and three other states, Florida, Illinois and Virginia. The survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percent.
The survey found Asian-American voters in Nevada favoring President Barack Obama over Republican Mitt Romney 54 to 29 percent, said David Mermin, a partner with Lake Research Partners. While the gap would seem to be good news for the Obama campaign, it also marks a drop from the 63 percent of those surveyed who said they voted for Obama in 2008.
Nationwide, a commanding 59 percent of Asian-Americans surveyed said they would vote for Obama compared with 13 percent for Romney. The 59 percent favoring Obama was higher than the 56 percent of those surveyed who said they voted for Obama in 2008.
The survey also found Asian-Americans in Nevada to be more critical of Obama and more supportive of Romney than Asian-American voters nationwide. However, the Nevada respondents also tend to be more optimistic about the direction of the country and how things are going for people like them than their counterparts nationwide, Mermin said.
Gloria Caoile, political director for the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, said that the biggest hurdle in getting Asian-Americans to turn out in November is voter apathy and the belief that political issues do not affect their community. Caoile said her organization has been using phone banks and knocking on doors to inform Asian-Americans of the importance of their U.S. citizenship and the obligation that comes with it.
About 4 in 5 Asian-American voters in Nevada said they are almost certain to vote, Mermin said. Fifty-two percent report being more enthusiastic to vote this year.
Only 28 percent of those surveyed in Nevada said they were contacted by the Democratic Party some or a great deal, with 18 percent saying the same about the Republican Party.
“Not only are the party leaders not paying attention to those of us who are already in their base, they’re not even fighting for those of us who are independent and waiting to be wooed,” said Mee Moua, president and executive director of the Asian American Justice Center in Washington.
Assuming that Obama maintains his current 25-point lead over Romney among Asian-American voters in Nevada and that those voters have similar turnout rates as 2008, Obama could receive a 9,000-vote advantage in Nevada, enough to tip the state to the president, the survey’s statisticians said. However, 1 in 6 Asian-American voters is still undecided and the Romney campaign can still make inroads with these voters, Mermin said.