As the AAPI Data team noted in a previous blog post last year, Asian Americans and Pacific Islander voters saw increases in voter registration after the 2016 election. These sizable gains in voter registration could potentially make a noticeable impact this November in battleground states like Arizona, where 173,231 AAPIs comprise 4.6 percent of the state’s electorate. In addition to increases in voter registration, AAPI turnout might also be influenced by other factors, such as the selection of Senator Kamala Harris as the first Asian American person on a major party’s presidential ticket.
Other states rated “toss-ups” by the Cook Political Report include Pennsylvania, where a citizen voting age population (CVAP) of 251,377 AAPIs makes up 4 percent of the state’s electorate; Wisconsin, where 91,556 eligible AAPI voters make up 3.3 percent of the state’s electorate; North Carolina, where 171,668 eligible AAPI voters make up 3.5 percent of the state’s electorate; and Florida, where 427,646 eligible AAPI voters make up 3.6 percent of the state’s electorate.
AAPIs also make up a sizable portion of the electorate in states rated “lean Republican” by the Cook Political Report. For example, in Texas, 795,600 eligible AAPI voters make up 5.5 percent of the state’s electorate, and Georgia’s 238,080 AAPI voters make up 4.7 percent of the state’s electorate. Iowa and Ohio also have sizable populations of eligible AAPI voters, with 38,632 making up 3.1 percent of Iowa’s electorate and 145,368 making up 2.8 percent of Ohio’s.
The Cook Political Report rates Nevada, Minnesota, Michigan, and Rhode Island as “lean Democrat.” Nevada boasts one of the largest AAPI shares of a state electorate, with 209,384 AAPI eligible voters comprising 11 percent of the state’s voters. Minnesota is home to 155,652 eligible AAPI voters, who make up 5.7 of the state’s electorate. The two other states rated “lean Democrat” are Michigan and Rhode Island, with 173,486 eligible AAPI voters making up 3.8 percent of the state’s electorate and 23,129 eligible AAPI voters making up 4.3 percent of the state’s electorate, respectively.
While AAPIs are a considerable portion of some key states’ eligible voter populations, gains in voter registration since 2016 will only continue to make an impact if AAPI voters make it to the ballot box — or mail in their ballots — this November like they did in 2018. If candidates, party committees, and civic engagement organizations can translate voter registration into turnout, AAPIs may see historic levels of turnout later this year.
[table id=AAPIVoter2020 /]
About the Authors:Mai Do is a Ph.D. student in Political Science at the University of California, Riverside who joined the AAPI Data team in January 2020. Prior to joining the AAPI Data team, Mai worked for Courage California. She is a graduate of Washington College and College of the Canyons.
Sunny Shao is a Ph.D. student in Political Science at the University of California Riverside. In spring 2017, Sunny joined AAPI Data. She received her master’s degree in public policy from Pepperdine University and her bachelor’s degree in international communications from Nottingham.
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