BY MAI NGUYEN DO, SUNNY SHAO & CHRIS PHAN

This blog post is third in a series on the 2020 Asian American Voter Survey

Earlier this month, AAPI Data, APIAVote, and Asian Americans Advancing Justice – AAJC released the results of our 2020 Asian American Voter Survey (AAVS). The crosstabs are available to view online, disaggregated by ethnicity. 1,569 Asian American registered voters were surveyed from July 15 to September 10, 2020, and included Chinese, Indian, Korean Vietnamese, Japanese and Filipino voters of all ages.

While disaggregating by ethnicity has revealed some interesting insights into the Asian American voter population, it’s also important that we examine the data with other lenses. For example, other ways to disaggregate our data, including by age group, nativity, and gender, revealed key information about upcoming races this November election, and community outreach and engagement in politics. 

The Presidential Race

While a breakdown of gender revealed little discrepancy between presidential candidate preferences, our analysis of our data revealed more telling patterns in age and nativity. Overall, Asian Americans said they were inclined to vote for Joe Biden over Donald Trump, 54% to 30%. However, the divide widens when you look at age groups. Individuals 18-34 stated they would more likely vote for Biden over Trump, 66% to 20%, a significantly wider margin than individuals ages over 50+, who said they would vote for Biden over Trump 45% to 36%. Respondents from ages 35-49 were closer to the overall average across all respondents, at 58% to 30% favoring Joe Biden. 

These differences between AAVS respondent age groups is in line with other findings. According to survey results published last year by the Pew Research Center, Asian American youth align with young adults’ political leanings overall in the United States. Ages 18-34 are made up of solely Generation Z and millennials, which have largely adopted left-leaning beliefs. Per the Pew survey, only 30% of Gen Z and 29% of millennials approved of Trump’s job performance as president. 

There are also important variations in how AAVS results differed between respondents’ nativity. Those who were born in the United States reported they were inclined to vote for Joe Biden over Donald Trump 69% to 20%, while those who were born in another country (but since immigrated, naturalized, and registered to vote) reported they were inclined to vote for Biden over Trump only 47% to 35%. 

Congressional Races

Across age, gender, and nativity groups, House of Representatives races in 2020 followed the same patterns as the presidential election, with a majority of registered voters saying that they would support the Democratic over the Republican candidates in the House race. Asian American respondents reported they were inclined to vote for the Democratic candidate over the Republican candidate by a margin of 53% to 28%. However, the margin was more significant in younger age groups. Respondents aged 18-34 said they would vote for the Democratic candidate 64% to 20%, while only 47% of the respondents aged 50 and over said they would vote for the Democratic candidate.

Similarly, 66% of native born respondents planned on voting for the Democratic candidate in their respective House representative election. 46% of foreign born respondents indicated that they were doing the same, with 32% of them planning to vote for the Republican candidate, and 18% saying that they didn’t know who they would vote for. 

Campaign Contact

Asian Americans, by and large, reported that the Republican Party, Democrat Party, and community organizations did not reach out to many of them. Overall, 12% of respondents to the AAVS said they had been contacted by Democrats “a great deal,” 18% said they had been contacted by Democrats “some,” 14% said they had been contacted by Democrats “a little,” and 50% said they hadn’t been contacted by Democrats at all. Eight percent of respondents said they had been contacted by Republicans “a great deal,” 16% said they had been contacted by Republicans “some,” 16% said they had been contacted by Republicans “a little,” and 55% said they had not been contacted by Republicans. Many respondents also said they had not been contacted by community organizations about the election. Only 5% said they had been contacted by community organizations “a great deal,” 15% said they had been contacted by community organizations “some,” 15% said they had been contacted by community organizations “a little,” and 58% said they had not been contacted by community organizations whatsoever.

Younger voters were contacted more so than older voters. While there was less variation in Republican contact between age groups, there were differences when it came to whether Democrats or community organizations had contacted them. Fifteen percent of respondents aged 18-34 said they were contacted by Democrats “a great deal,” 20% said they had been contacted by Democrats “some,” 17% said they had been contacted by Democrats “a little,” and 41% said they hadn’t been contacted by Democrats. In comparison, 10% of respondents 50 and over said they were contacted by Democrats “a great deal,” 14% said they had been contacted by Democrats “some,” 14% said they had been contacted by Democrats “a little,” and 61% said they had not been contacted by Democrats at all. Eight percent of respondents aged 18-34 said they were contacted by community organizations “a great deal,” 23% said they had been contacted by community organizations “some,” 22% said they had been contacted by community organizations “a little,” and 37% said they hadn’t been contacted community organizations. By contrast, just 3% of respondents 50 and over said they were contacted by community organizations “a great deal,” 10% said they had been contacted by community organizations “some,” 9% said they had been contacted by community organizations “a little,” and 74% said they had not been contacted by community organizations at all.

In addition to differences between age groups, there were also differences in the amount of campaign contact between native-born voters and foreign-born voters. Thirteen percent of native-born respondents said they were contacted by Democrats “a great deal,” 21% said they had been contacted by Democrats “some,” 21% said they had been contacted by Democrats “a little,” and 37% said they hadn’t been contacted by Democrats. Eleven percent of foreign-born respondents said they were contacted by Democrats “a great deal,” 17% said they had been contacted by Democrats “some,” 11% said they had been contacted by Democrats “a little,” and 57% said they had not been contacted by Democrats at all. Ten percent of native-born respondents said they were contacted by Republicans “a great deal,” 15% said they had been contacted by Republicans “some,” 20% said they had been contacted by Republicans “a little,” and 47% said they hadn’t been contacted by Republicans. Six percent of foreign-born respondents said they were contacted by Republicans “a great deal,” 16% said they had been contacted by Republicans “some,” 14% said they had been contacted by Republicans “a little,” and 59% said they had not been contacted by Republicans at all. Seven percent of native-born respondents said they were contacted by community organizations “a great deal,” 21% said they had been contacted by community organizations “some,” 21% said they had been contacted by community organizations “a little,” and 40% said they had not been contacted by community organizations at all. Just 4% of foreign-born respondents said they were contacted by community organizations “a great deal,” 12% said they had been contacted by community organizations “some,” 11% said they had been contacted by community organizations “a little,” and 66% said they had not been contacted by community organizations at all.

Voting Method

Although 93% of surveyed Asian American respondents reported that they were planning to vote, the breakdown of how individuals plan to vote differs significantly from age group and nativity, and could play a key role in how many people are able to make a plan to vote. Notably, more younger voters planned to vote by mail in this election. 59% of respondents ages 18-34 reported they were planning to vote by mail, while 43% of ages 35-49 and 39% of those over 50+ reported they would do the same. Native born respondents planned to use alternate voting methods provided, including voting early in person, voting absentee, and by mail slightly more than foreign born respondents. 

Older voters were also more likely to plan to vote in person on Election Day.While 27% of Asian Americans overall reported that they would vote on Election Day, only 14% of those 18-34 planned to do so. In comparison, 37% of those aged 50 and over intended to vote in person on Election Day. 33% of foreign born respondents intend to vote in person on Election Day, as opposed to only 14% of native born respondents. 

Throughout 2020, COVID-19 has significantly changed how elections are conducted, and vote by mail policies have shifted. Some states send out ballots automatically, while others will ask for a valid excuse as to why someone cannot vote in person. Knowing who plans to vote in person versus by mail will hopefully inform community organizations and other groups on messaging strategies on how to inform voters and keep them safe while voting.