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Academic Version: Applying my personal experiences and academic research as a professor of Sociology and Asian American Studies to provide a more complete understanding of political, economic, and cultural issues and current events related to American race relations, and Asia/Asian America in particular.

Plain English: Trying to put my Ph.D. to good use.

November 12, 2006

Written by C.N.

Asian American Exit Poll Data

In the wake of the recent election results, the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) has released some preliminary exit poll data about the voting patterns of Asian Americans around the country. Below is their press release in its entirety:


76% of Asian Americans in Michigan reject anti-affirmative action referendum.

Asian American voters in eight states continued a decade-long shift to support Democratic candidates, with 79% of those polled favoring Democrats in Tuesday’s congressional and state elections. According to preliminary results of a nonpartisan, multilingual exit poll of over 4,600 Asian American voters, released today by the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), Democratic candidates in closely-watched races in Virginia, New Jersey and other states were consistently buoyed by Asian American voter turnout.

Most exit poll respondents (87%) said that they had voted in a previous election, while 13% told AALDEF volunteers that they were first-time voters. Over 625 pro bono attorneys, law students, and community activists monitored polling places and surveyed Asian American voters in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Michigan, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C.

AALDEF Executive Director Margaret Fung said: “Asian American voters reacted to sharp ideological differences among the candidates and displayed their awareness of party labels. The decade-long trend of Asian American voters favoring Democratic candidates contributed to the dramatic shifts in political power that took place in Tuesday’s midterm elections.”

AALDEF Exit Poll Survey Highlights:

Virginia Senate: After maintaining a slim lead, Democratic candidate Jim Webb was declared the winner by 0.3% of the total vote (49.6%) beating Republican incumbent Sen. George Allen (49.3%), best known among Asian Americans for his derogatory “macaca” remark to a South Asian campaign worker. According to AALDEF’s exit poll of more than 250 Asian American voters, 76% voted for Jim Webb, 21% voted for Sen. Allen, and 3% voted for Glenda Parker.

New Jersey Senate: In this heated Senate race, among more than 370 Asian Americans polled, 77% voted for incumbent Sen. Robert Menendez, while 20% voted for Republican challenger Thomas Kean Jr.—a 57-point margin. 3% of Asian Americans polled voted for other candidates. Among all New Jersey voters, Menendez held his seat by an 8-point margin (53% to 45%).

Maryland Senate: In Maryland’s open Senate seat, among over 200 Asian American voters polled, 73% chose Democrat Ben Cardin, with 24% for Republican Michael Steele, and 3% for Green Party candidate Kevin Zeese. Among the general electorate, 55% voted for Cardin, 44% for Steele, and 2% for Zeese.

Pennsylvania Senate: Among more than 200 Asian American voters polled in Philadelphia, 71% voted for Democratic candidate Bob Casey, while 29% voted for Republican incumbent Sen. Rick Santorum. Among all voters, 59% voted for Casey and 41% voted for Santorum.

Massachusetts Governor: Democratic candidate Deval Patrick, who became the nation’s second African American elected governor, received support from 75% of more than 350 Asian American voters polled in Boston, Dorchester, Lowell and Quincy, with Kerry Healey receiving 21%. Statewide, 56% voted for Patrick, and 35% voted for Healey.

Michigan Proposal 2: Rejecting claims that Asian Americans are hurt by affirmative action programs, three in four Asian American voters voted No to Proposal 2, which seeks to end race- and gender-based affirmative action programs in education, hiring, contracting, and health initiatives. More than 300 Asian American voters—including Arab Americans—participated in AALDEF’s exit poll survey in Michigan. Proposal 2 passed by a wide margin, 58% to 42% .

Illinois Governor: Democratic incumbent Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich defeated his Republican opponent Judy Baar Topinka with a 10-point lead, 50% to 40%. In contrast, 99% of the 170 Asian Americans polled in Chicago voted for Blagojevich, with 1% for Topinka.

New York Attorney General: Of over 2,300 Asian American voters polled in New York City, 82% voted for Democratic candidate Andrew Cuomo. Republican contender Jeanine Pirro received 14% of the Asian American vote, with 4% voting for other candidates. Cuomo led Pirro 58% to 40% among all voters statewide.

The 2006 Elections mark the 19th year in which AALDEF has conducted a nonpartisan exit poll of Asian American voters. Additional information on Asian American ethnic groups and population growth data in the eight states surveyed is available upon request.

AALDEF volunteers—the majority of whom spoke one of 15 Asian languages or dialects—conducted the multilingual survey, which was translated into nine languages: Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Khmer, Bengali, Arabic, Punjabi, Urdu, and Gujarati. AALDEF’s multilingual exit polls reveal vital information about Asian American voting patterns regularly overlooked in mainstream voter surveys and provide a snapshot of Asian American voter preferences on candidates, political parties, language needs, and other issues of vital importance to their communities. More detailed results from AALDEF’s exit poll will be released in the coming weeks.

We should note that as in past elections, AALDEF’s exit polls concentrated on Asian Americans in large metropolitan areas. As such, these Asian American voters are likely to be more Democratic than those who live in smaller cities or rural areas. Nonetheless, it is clear that among Asian Americans polled by AALDEF, there is a clear consensus in support for the Democrats. Perhaps we as Asian Americans will indeed constitute a powerful bloc voting constituency soon.

Author Citation

Copyright © 2001- by C.N. Le. Some rights reserved. Creative Commons License

Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "Asian American Exit Poll Data" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <> ().

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