The Asian American Federation of Florida (AAFF) is a 501(c)(3) coalition that aims to unity and collaboration among the various Asian Pacific American organizations and to improve the relationship of a culturally diverse Asian Pacific American community in Florida. The AAFF is a statewide organization made up of more than 70 Bangladesh, Burmese, Cambodian, Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Iranian, Korean, Laotian, Taiwanese, Thai, Turkish and Vietnamese community-based organizations, businesses and media.

Asian-Americans Are The New Florida


Asian-Americans may vote for Democrats now, but they are a highly persuadable—and growing—part of the electorate.

Listen up, Republican and Democratic parties: Asian-Americans represent a huge opportunity for both of you—they’re expected to double from the current population of seventeen million by 2060—so you better start recruiting. Now.

And they might not have to wait that long to show their political heft.

Asian-American voters may find new political relevance in the race to replace former Republican Rep. Michael Grimm of New York, who resigned this week after pleading guilty to tax evasion. The Staten Island, N.Y. district is 12 percent Asian-American—a substantial part of the population—in what promises to be a tightly contested race.

It’s not like they don’t want to get involved: Asian-Americans have shown a willingness to participate in public activities—according to Pew, 44 percent of American-Asians have participated in civic engagement in the past year, compared to 38 percent of the general public.
But what makes Asian-Americans such a lucrative target for political strategists is that they’ve shown fluidity in terms of their political preferences.

They can be swayed from election to election. In 1992, Republican George H.W. Bush won the Asian-American vote by 24 points. By 2012, Democratic President Barack Obama owned the Asian-American vote, winning it by 47 percentage points.

"Democrats just assume that Asian-Americans will turn up at the polls, and vote Democrat," said Dr. Michelle Diggles, author of a new Third Way study on Asian-American political participation. "There are very real serious ramifications for the assumption that demographics are destiny for the Democratic Party. If you don't do outreach, if you don't target, if you don't talk about the issues that they care about, they'll stay home."

Taken as a whole, Asian-Americans are the fastest growing group in the United States—but thus far the least engaged in the voting process, making them a group ripe for the political picking. Just 47 percent of Asian-Americans voted in the 2012 presidential election. That’s  a lower proportion than African American voters (66 percent), white voters (64 percent) and Hispanic voters (48 percent).

But political parties haven’t stepped up, according to the new report from centrist Democratic think tank Third Way, which holds that Asian-Americans just haven't been brought into the American political fold.

Neither the Republican nor the Democratic party have done anything to consistently target Asian- American voters. The Third Way study points out that a mere 31 percent of Asian-Americans reported being contacted by a campaign during the 2012 cycle, compared to 53 percent all American voters.

This is in part due to logistics. The vast diversity within the Asian-American community in terms of both language and culture makes it difficult for politicians and political figures to connect. In order to  conduct an accurate poll of Asian-Americans, Diggles said that a polling firm would need to use at least six languages.

"By and large, the main strategists and consultants have not targeted Asian-Americans as a group," she said, due in part to the logistical challenges of doing so.

But  Republican and Democratic parties have made efforts to reverse that trend. Both are attempting to aggressively recruit candidates in the Asian-American community, and exit polling showed Republicans and Democrats virtually tied among the voter group in the 2014 midterms.

Asian-Americans are a group of persuadable swing voters, growing faster than any other group in America today. Politicians better take notice.

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From the 1940s to the 1990s most Asian Americans were anti-communist refugees who had fled mainland China, North Korea or Vietnam, and were strongly anti-Communist. Many had ties to conservative organizations. In recent years, more liberal Asian-American groups such as newer Chinese and Indian immigrants have greatly changed the Asian-American political demographics, as well as a larger proportion of younger Asian Americans, many of whom have completed college degrees.

In the 1992 presidential election Republican George H. W. Bush received 55% of the Asian-American vote compared to 31% for Democrat Bill Clinton. Asian Americans voted Republican and were the only racial group more conservative than whites in the 1990s, according to surveys. The Asian American vote has slowly shifted since then with Democrat John Kerry winning 56% of the Asian American vote in the 2004 U.S. Presidential Election; Chinese and Indian Americans were more likely to support John Kerry, whereas Vietnamese and Filipino Americans supported George Bush. The Japanese leaned towards Kerry, while the Koreans leaned towards Bush. Democrat Barack Obama won 62% of the Asian American vote in the 2008 U.S. Presidential Election, with the margin increasing during the 2012 United States presidential elections, where Asian American voters voted to re-elect Democrat Barack Obama by 73%.

Overall, Asian Americans as a whole tend to vote for Democrats, but this trend has been fairly recent. As recently as 2000 polling number had difficulty determining Asian American voter affiliation. With some polls indicating a tendency to vote Republican, while other polls indicated a trend to vote Democrat. Due to the smaller size of the groups population, in comparison to the population as a whole, it remains difficult to get an adequate sampling to forecast voter outcomes for Asian Americans. In 2008, polls indicated that 35% considered themselves non-partisan, 32% Democrats, 19% independents, and 14% Republicans.  The 2012 National Asian American Survey, conducted by Professor Ramakrishnan of UC Riverside and Professor Lee of UC Berkeley, found that 51% considered themselves non-partisan, 33% Democrats, 14% Republicans, and 2% Other;[ Hmong, Indian, and Korean Americans strongly identified as Democrats, and Filipino and Vietnamese Americans most strongly identified as Republicans. In 2013, according to the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, Chinese Americans were the least likely Asian American ethnicity to have a party affiliation, with only one third belonging to a party.  In the 2014 midterm elections, based on exit polls, 50% of Asian Americans voted Republican, while 49% voted Democrat; this swing towards voting for Republicans was a drastic change from the support given to the Obama re-election in 2012, and had not reached 50% since 1996.

Neither the Republican nor Democratic parties have financed significant efforts to the registration of Asian Americans, however much more attention has been focused on contributions from Asian Americans, having once been referred to as "Republican Jews". As recently as 2006 the outreach of America's two major political parties have been unbalanced, with the Democratic Party devoting more resources in attracting Asian Americans. Political affiliation aside, Asian Americans have trended to become more politically active as a whole, with 2008 seeing an increase of voter participation by 4% to a 49% voting rate.

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