Asian Americans and Pacific
Islanders (AAPIs) are the fastest growing racial group in the United States,
making AAPI voters a force to be reckoned with as a key constituency group for
the 2012 presidential election. The Obama For America (OFA) campaign is
capture the attention of ethnic voting blocs in various states.
of AAPIs turned out to vote in 2008, making them the lowest registered group,
compared to 62 percent of all Americans. Only half of eligible AAPIs are
registered to vote, making AAPIs the lowest racial or ethnic group
recorded. OFA can still remain optimistic though, since 81 percent of
first-time AAPI voters voted for President Obama.
mainstream news outlets focused on AAPI Silicon
Valley entrepreneurs as
flashy campaign donors in the already blue state of California, what's really
at stake for many is outside of the San Francisco Bay Area. AAPI populations
can make a big difference in
states throughout the country, especially Nevada.
votes, Nevada is a key swing state to win the presidential election. Nevada
is home to the nation’s fastest growing AAPI population. AAPI
and Latino voters were the margin of swing victory in U.S. Senator Harry Reid's
run for re-election in Nevada during the 2010 mid-term elections.
Americans are the second largest ethnic group in Nevada alone, and make up 4
the state’s population
at 98,000 -- 86,000 of whom
Clark County. Tagalog will be the third language, aside from English and
Spanish, to be used in election materials in Clark County. OFA has a clear
investment in AAPI communities, with a total of seven field offices in Las
Vegas alone, which is located in Clark County.
speculate that because of poor voter turnout during the previous
elections, as well as a likely
of white swing independent voters supporting Obama, OFA will
to recapture base voters, particularly communities of color.
Toward the end of last year, OFA launched Operation
a voter engagement and outreach program intended to expand support from ethnic
groups. Operation Vote focuses on
groups for Obama, ranging from African Americans, women, to veterans, environmentalists,
most recently -- Obama Pride -- or Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT)
Americans for Obama.
month, OFA launched Asian
Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) for Obama.
effort to reach the largest of AAPI ethnic groups, with some campaign
translated in languages such as Chinese, Tagalog,
Obama by a nearly five to one
to one among Indian Americans, and three to one
have come out recently focusing on
AAPI community's preferences regarding political parties, there is still no substitute
for having voters identify with staff and volunteers who share the same face,
language, making voters more likely to vote for the candidate whose campaign actively
reaches out to them.
American labor organizer and attorney,
off as a Deputy Field Organizer for OFA in Pennsylvania in 2008. Mario was
Director of Nevada's
Vote, a position vital to help win battleground states for the 2012
presence in the campaign, like that of
other AAPI staff at OFA pictured in the video above, shows that OFA values
inclusion and diversity on staff across various departments. But it's less
about marketing to a constituency group, and really about showing how AAPIs are
a part of a larger family.
Soetoro-Ng, Obama's Asian American sister, and her husband Konrad Ng, are Obama
currently are campaigning on their brother's behalf, something Obama wasn't shy
about addressing at the
Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies (APAICS) annual gala
Uy, an OFA Nevada volunteer,
“His sister is half Asian, so when he talks about the AAPI community, he’s
talking about us as family.”
this won't be an easy fight--2012 won't be without its challenges for online
and field organizers for the campaign.
still a large segment of the AAPI community that is not registered to vote
(taking into account that there is still a large number of immigrant
have not yet naturalized and can become eligible to vote in this election).
Research shows that naturalized immigrants,
registered, vote at higher rates than the native-born.
Another challenge OFA will take on
is harnessing online activity (use of apps and social media) and translating
into field work--
registering people to vote, getting AAPI communities to mail their absentee
to the polls in November.
has the most sophisticated data
metrics-driven programs that even the D.C.
Beltway has ever seen,
it will still take some work to capture the vast AAPI community online.
Fortunately, according to the Pew
engagement is among the highest of all racial groups on mobile and the Internet. But how this looks when disaggregated by ethnic groups and in native Asian languages
can get super technical.
energy from the 2008 campaign may not be the same. The average Joe
Jane may not be creating their own ”Barack the Vote”
to wear at
next hot party,
playing Obamagirl YouTube videos with their friends just yet,
but a strong passion for volunteerism and getting involved in community through
the campaign remains.
Uy, a single mother and nurse,
volunteering for OFA, and after one meeting has dedicated more and more time to
organizing her community, while also coordinating phonebanks in Las Vegas.
me, I have seen President Obama take a real stand on issues that mean the most
to me. ...
of the Affordable Care Act, my daughter can stay on my healthcare insurance
plan and my friend’s children can stay on theirs-- a
point I bring up with my friends all the time. As of now, I haven’t met that
many AAPIs in my community who are engaged in the election, but I’m hoping to
change that. That’s why I organize;
is my way of helping hundreds and thousands have their voices heard. I believe
President Obama has stood for our communities;
time we stand united with him.”
like Uy hope to contribute to making history a second time in November to land
a second presidential
shall see what color Nevada will be on November 6.
The Romney campaign was contacted to interview for this article. We await a
response and hope to feature them in a future article.
Erin Pangilinan is a Filipina For Obama. She was involved in Filipinos For
Obama in 2008.
Erin is a prolific writer and has worked as a Philippine News
Correspondent for over six
and as a Change.org Immigrant Rights Cause blogger.
She is excited to join the Hyphen magazine staff, contributing to the Politics
section, of which this is her first contribution. Read more work from Erin at erinjerri.com