As Asian Americans become a larger portion of the American population, our political influence has an opportunity to grow. Can we overcome ethnic divisions, unfavorable population distributions, and neglect from the Democratic Party?
Teen and Mark chat with guest podcaster Varun Nikore, President of the AAPI Victory Fund.
Twitter: Varun (@varunnikore),
The following are edited excerpts from “Trump Made Local Politics Sexy feat. Varun Nikore”, the 12th episode of Plan A’s podcast, Escape From Plan A.
I’ve learned that actually, I’m Chinese, the Chinese American community is extremely political. They’re all about politics all the time. One of the things you made me think about is this outreach into this existing political consciousness of Asians.
We did increase [turnout] from 2012. We’re seeing this graduated increase over time for Democrats. I want to say, off the top of my head, it was about a 3–4% increase from 2012. The reason that is significant is because Latino turnout was about flat. Of course, everyone knows African American turnout was down close to 20%. In this environment, we increased our vote for Democrats. In exit polls, more Asian Americans identified as Democrats.
And these state legislatures are incredibly important. I think it’s a story that’s been told but I don’t know if every one of our listeners or people are always aware of it, but that’s the way Republicans have flipped so many Congressional seats. Is that they started from the state chambers which control how the voting districts are drawn and then if you can draw them in your favor, you can win these Congressional seats.
We’re tracking right now on our website, aapivictoryfund.com, 60 Asian Americans running for Congress. If were to get 5–10, we’d be over-performing in Congress. Hey, let’s do that to make up for the years we were under-performing!
You mentioned Orlando, you mentioned Phoenix… It’s not just what we traditionally think of as the big Asian population centers too, right? They’re going out in competitive districts as well.
I’m glad I get to talk to you Varun because I can get very cynical and down on things. But talknig to you and realizing there are people like you that are out there and are so optimistic and getting out there and organizing. It gives me hope.