Asian American young voters came out in force and make an impact on the political landscapes of political races in metro Atlanta and the nation.
A large percentage of Asian American electorates are first time voters. Motivated by equality, racism and discrimination, young voters tilted some of the key races in metro Atlanta especially in the suburbs of Gwinnett and Cobb counties.
Based on recent data, Asian Americans reported greater instances of racism than in past polls. In Georgia, 43% of Asian Americans were subjected to slurs or jokes based on their race and 23% were victims of physical assault or battery–almost one out of every four Asian Americans.
“Asian Americans votes are pragmatic and progressive on wide variety of issues ranging from healthcare, immigration bill reform, climate change, and protecting social security,” said Cam T. Ashling, lead organizer of Georgia Advancing Progress PAC (GAPPAC).
Ashling and her team of volunteers sent out over 18,500 postcards including 12,000 handwritten notes to potential voters in metro Atlanta. They also made over 100,000 personal phone calls urging voters to show up to vote. GAPAC also contributed political donations to 14 different candidates in metro Atlanta.
“We've not stopped working since Nov 3rd – we continue to build momentum towards helping to win the next two critical Senate races in Georgia,” said Ashling.
On Thursday, November 5, Asian American Decisions and AAPI Civic Engagement Fund hosted a webinar to provide detailed poll findings and electoral context for Asian American voters nationally and in Georgia, Texas and Virginia. Taeku Lee from Asian American Decisions presented key findings from the polls, and was joined by: Stephanie Cho, Executive Director, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta; Deborah Chen, Civic Engagement Program Director, OCA-Greater Houston; and Tram Nguyen, Co-Executive Director, New Virginia Majority Education Fund.
“The data are clear: American elections are more and more about voters of color and the growing Asian American electorate is increasingly the difference between winning and losing for candidates and issues,” said Taeku Lee, Managing Director of Asian American Decisions in a press statement.
“Today, Asian Americans hold broadly progressive views on a wide range of issues. This is a dramatic change from the past, and the unmistakable finding here is that they are far more similar to Latinx and Black voters than they are to whites.”
Democrat Carolyn Bourdeaux won Georgia's suburban 7th Congressional District, 51% to 49%. Based on findings of one poll, Asian Americans voted 62% to 36% for Bourdeaux, representing 17% of her total vote and accounting for 150% of her current winning margin. In other words, if Asian Americans had not voted at all, Bordeaux would be losing 48% to 52%.
“The story of GA-7 is a story about first-time Asian American and Pacific Islander voters and who is mobilizing them,” said Stephanie Cho, Executive Director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta at the webinar. “Grassroots community based organizing matters and it works. More and more AAPIs are excited to be part of the process. This is the future of Georgia.”
Sam Park, incumbent Democrat re-elected to his 3rd term at Georgia House of Representative (HD-101) credit the efforts of Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta and Fair Fights movement in driving the Asian Americans electorate votes. “First time voters are changing the political landscape at all levels including local County elections, Board of Education and Commissioner seats,” said Park.
“Asian American voters are turned off by anti-Asian rhetorics and the immigration bill. The failure of effective response to COV-19 pandemic have caused havoc among small business which badly affected the Asian American business owners. Without proper help and solutions to COV-19, the Asian American small business owners are badly affected and neglected,” said Park.
There are victims of the changing waves of electorates in the suburbs. Soo Hong, a Republican candidate who ran her first campaign for Georgia's House of Representative (HD-102) experienced the changing political landscape.
“I've enjoyed the process and I've no regret with my effort. I am proud of the campaign and the things that I can control. I've learned so much from this experience and hope to run in another campaign when the door opens up,” said Hong.
Hong hopes to continue to engage her work with her community and to inspire more young Asian Americans to vote.
Dr. Michelle Au, defeated Matt Reeves (R) for the Georgia Senate District 48 seat in her first political campaign. As a medical doctor, she aimed to improve the quality of healthcare and to focus on issues affecting the community.
“I'm proud of my campaign – we were focused on issues that matter and not be distracted by national political issues including the negative campaigns,” said the Chinese American doctor.
Au strongly believes it takes good leadership and policies to lead us out of current COV-19 pandemic. With her medical background, she hope to shape effective policies to improve quality of healthcare for every Georgians.