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Behind the Headlines: APA News Blog

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.

February 10, 2008

Written by C.N.

Asian Americans and Super Tuesday Results

This past week was extremely busy and tiring for me and therefore, I did not have the chance to comment on the Super Tuesday results, especially as they relate to Asian American voters. The basic summary is that, as you have probably already heard, it was pretty much a dead heat between Clinton and Obama, with Clinton winning slightly more delegates but Obama winning more states.

Regarding Asian American voters, the biggest story was that in California, they voted for Clinton by a surprisingly large margin of 3-to-1. These particular results have led many to ask to what extent did racial prejudice against Blacks (and therefore, against Obama) play in their decisions to overwhelmingly support Clinton.

Fortunately, others have argued quite convincingly that rather than racial prejudice, the main reasons why Asian American voters in California voted in large numbers for Clinton more than likely included a preference for more familiar, “establishment” candidates, and those who are currently more associated with being powerful and influential, both of which Clinton personifies more than Obama. For example, Jeff Chang succinctly writes:

Clinton’s main advantage is that she has the access to power and the party structures that deliver promises to officials and operatives. Obama doesn’t. Emergent politics favors individuals seeking power. Think of it this way: Hillary, the woman candidate, is bringing Latino and Asian American leaders into the old-boy’s network.

These leaders, in turn, deliver votes via their community’s structures of power: business groups, labor unions, voter groups, community organizations. Those groups tend to deliver an older voter who is already “in the game”, who can directly benefit from the opening of the old-boy’s network. “Experience” really is a cover for “access.”

Jeff goes on to note that since Obama’s strength seems to lie more with younger voters, rather than older ones, it’s likely that he did much better with younger Asian American voters in California as well, while less successful with their parents.

It’s also conceivable that Obama experienced some fallout from the controversy regarding the 80-20 Initiative’s initial call to defeat him over whether he would endorse its official platform.

For now, what we do know is that Obama and his campaign have some work to do in terms of winning over Asian American (and Latino American) voters. While they appeal quite successfully to younger members of both groups and their anti-establishment sense, that message and orientation apparently do not play as well with older members.

The campaign and fight for the nomination is still wide open between him and Clinton but at the least, Obama’s campaign should now know where they stand and what they need to do.

Author Citation

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

Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "Asian Americans and Super Tuesday Results" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <> ().

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