As the current presidential hopefuls work the campaign trail, many citizens are seeing political advertisements flood their email, play repetitively on television, and fill their mailboxes urging them to get ready for the November 4th election. Candidates have begun targeting swing states such as Virginia and Nevada, and those states' burgeoning Asian populations; a demographic that few politicians have reached out to before.
Asian-Americans have surpassed Latinos as the largest new immigrant group, and politicians from both political parties have begun to lobby for their support. However, the effort to capitalize on the Asian-American vote is proving difficult. While ballots are now offered in a variety of languages, politicians are finding it difficult to reach out to the diverse community because of language barriers.
Additionally, the lack of organization in the Asian-American community has a led to the lowest voter turn-out for any minority group.
Well aware of the Asian-American population's swing vote status, President Obama and Governor Mitt Romney have begun a special campaign initiative to gain new votes. In Las Vegas' Clark County, Nevada, where the Asians account for 9.9 percent of the population, President Obama purchased a full page ad in an Asian-American newspaper during the 2008 election. This current election season, Obama supporters have set up an Asian-American Pacific Islanders (AAPI) call center to garner support. Mitt Romney supporters have also visited Asian-American voters in Nevada in hopes of enticing them with his pro-business platform.
Because many new Asian-American immigrants come from countries without elections, political organizers want to let them know that they now have the chance to make a difference. Because many Asian-American voters remain undecided about who to vote for, they stand to be an important minority group in the upcoming election.
"Back where you come from, there are no elections, now you have an election, you can make a difference." - Alan Dong, Nevada.
"I think, sometimes, they don't understand the electoral process. They don't want the candidates stand for. They don't want to vote." - Amie Belmonte, organizer.
1. What is a swing state?
2. What is a voter demographic?
3. What voter demographics have you seen targeted in current and past elections?
1. Has a language or cultural barrier ever affected you? If so, how did you overcome it?
2. Do other minority populations have voter organizations? What do they do?
3. How can candidates better reach out to traditionally underrepresented population groups like Asian-Americans?